Wexford Footballers signed off on their Allianz League Campaign on Saturday with promotion secured and a 2nd Defeat to the hands of Westmeath, again Wexford came up against a stronger Westmeath side that are a couple of seasons ahead of a Wexford side who are early in development stages
Westmeath handed Wexford a second defeat in the space of a fortnight as they were rounded off an unbeaten spring campaign by picking up the Allianz Football League Division 4 title at sunny Croke Park .
While Tom Cribbin’s charges failed to replicate their 24-point victory over an understrength Wexford at Innovate Wexford Park 13 days ago, they ran out facile winners once again to capture the county’s first silverware since 2008 when they defeated Dublin in the Division 2 decider. The success goes some way towards atoning for the disappointment of losing the last two Leinster finals to the Dubs and also provides a timely boost for Westmeath ahead of their Leinster SFC quarter-final against neighbours Offaly on June 11.
The winners were full of running and had outstanding performers in the league’s top scorer John Heslin, who helped himself to another 0-8, man of the match Kieran Martin, captain Ger Egan and centre forward Paul Sharry. They had no fewer than eight different scorers and had one hand on the trophy at half-time when they held a commanding 1-11 to 1-4 lead.
Ger Egan opened the scoring inside 30 seconds before Michael Furlong popped up from corner back to equalise. John Heslin and Kevin O’Grady traded further points as did Tommy McDaniel and Ciaran Lyng before Heslin’s second free handed Westmeath a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
Daylight appeared between the sides for the first time in the 16th minute when Paul Curtis took down James Dolan as he was about to pull the trigger and Westmeath captain Egan sent Shane Roche the wrong way from the resultant penalty to make it 1-4 to 0-3.
Wexford skipper Daithi Watters was fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for an incident involving Kelvin Reilly before a free-wheeling Lake County tagged on three more quick points without reply per Heslin (a beauty from outside the ‘45’), Kieran Martin and Paul Sharry. The margin was brought back to four points when Kevin O’Grady weaved his way through the Westmeath defence for a superb 22nd minute goal before Shane Roche denied Martin from point-blank range moments later.
McDaniel fisted over his second point before Darren Quinn saved brilliantly from PJ Banville. A Wexford goal at that stage would have made it very interesting, but instead points from Sharry and Martin pushed the winners seven clear, 1-10 to 1-3, clear once again. Watters fisted over to keep Wexford in touch, only for Sharry to kick his third point at the other end just before the interval.
Lyng narrowed the gap from a free on the restart before Martin had a brace either side of a Kelvin Reilly effort. With Banville and Lyng hitting two points each, ‘Banty’ McEnaney’s men outscored their opponents by 0-4 to 0-1 before Westmeath enjoyed another purple patch that yielded 1-6 without reply between the 59th and 70th minutes.
Heslin and sub John Connellan had two points each, with another sub Shane Dempsey notching up 1-1 – his 67th minute goal being a rather fortuitous one which Shane Roche fumbled into the net. Ger Egan also split the posts before sub Donal Shanley scored 1-2 in stoppage-time
Wexford – S Roche; R Devereux, J Rossiter, M Furlong (0-1); B Malone, J Leacy, E Nolan; D Waters (0-1), C Kehoe; K O’Grady (1-1), B Brosnan, P Curtis; C Lyng (0-4, 3f), J Tubritt, PJ Banville (0-2). Subs: C Carty for P Curtis, A Flynn for J Leacy, M O’Regan for R Devereux, D Shanley (1-2, 0-1f, 0-1’45) for B Brosnan, J Wadding for J Tubritt, T Rossiter for E Nolan, C Carty (BC).