Wexford ease past Offaly

November 8, 2018


WEXFORD ended a three-year wait for a Leinster championship victory in some style at Tullamore on Saturday to clinch a quarter-final berth.

There has been precious little between these teams in recent clashes — but on this occasion, Wexford showed a real killer instinct. Offaly spurned four goal chances, while Wexford emphatically took their chances to leave manager Jason Ryan elated after the match.

‘I’m thrilled — if we won by a point, I would have been delighted. We just needed a win. We haven’t won a game in Leinster since 2008. This is huge for us, a massive performance,’ said Ryan. ‘There was massive pressure on the lads. We lost to Kilkenny during the week in junior football and the U-21 footballers won Leinster — that added more pressure.


‘We’ve only had two weeks training. After the league they went back to their clubs and played two rounds of hurling and two rounds of football championship. All of our players are dual players. They have had so little time to prepare, I’m thrilled to bits. In your wildest dreams you wouldn’t have expected to win by that much.’

It was a scrappy game, but the one constant was Wexford’s superiority. They began aided by a stiff breeze and raced into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead and were 1-9 to 0-6 up at the break.

With debutant Ben Brosnan in top form and Offaly unable to get any sort of break in front of goal, the second half was equally comfortable.

The anguish for Offaly was that they had four gilt-edged chances to score goals. In the 13th minute, Niall McNamee inexplicably failed to hit the target from a penalty after Sean Ryan was fouled by Daithi Walsh and that set the tone for a miscellany of misses.

‘I don’t know. We missed a penalty, missed goal chances and different things, but we just collapsed with 15 or 20 minutes to go. For the first seven or eight minutes of the second half we owned the ball, had six or seven attacks, and we needed to get scores and we didn’t — no one took responsibility,’ said Offaly boss Tom Cribbin.

‘Obviously, we are just not mentally strong enough. We can start questioning things when it goes like that, but it’s nothing to do with fitness. We can do it in challenge matches, we can play out of our skin against strong teams and can go 100 miles an hour once everything is going right for us, but when the questions are really asked, instead of standing up…’

Wexford dominated the middle through Rory Quinlivan, Daithi Waters and Eric Bradley, while Colm Morris revelled in a roving role. Corner-back Brian Darby, together with Ciaran McManus and Karol Slattery, tried to inspire a revival and McNamee kicked some fine points, but Wexford always looked stronger.

The loss of teen star Anton Sullivan to a recurrence of his shoulder injury merely compounded the problems for Offaly.

A poor Richard Dalton handpass gifted a goal to Ciaran Lyng in the 22nd minute and the match was over in the 52nd minute when a Quinlivan shot was half blocked and finished to the net by Redmond Barry. That killer blow came moments after Thomas Deehan had a goal drive smothered by David Murphy and then Wexford ‘keeper Anthony Masterson made an excellent save to deny McNamee.

Later, Offaly sub Ken Casey rounded Masterson, but his shot hit the post.

‘Building or no building, bar you go through the back door and get to a semi-final of an All-Ireland, it’s going to be very difficult to lift (ourselves) after that,’ said Cribbin.

SCORERS — Wexford: C Lyng 1-6 (4f), B Brosnan 0-7 (3f, 1 ’45’), R Barry 1-0, R Quinlivan, P Byrne, A Morrissey 0-1 each. Offaly: N McNamee 0-4, B Allen 0-2, N Dunne, K Casey 0-1 each.

WEXFORD — A Masterson 8; J Wadding 6, A Doyle 8, G Molloy 7; A Flynn 6, D Murphy 7, J Wadding 7; R Quinlivan 8, D Waters 8; B Brosnan 9, C Morris 7, E Bradley 8; C Lyng 8, S Roche 7, R Barry 7. Subs: P Byrne 7 for S Roche (40), A Morrissey 6 for A Flynn (52), B Doyle 7 for Bradley (52), L McGovern 6 for Barry (61), G Sunderland for Quinlivan (65).

OFFALY — A Mulhall 6; B Darby 6, S Brady 6, S Pender 5; S Lonergan 5, R Brady 5, K Slattery 6; R Dalton 5, N Smith 6; C McManus 7, S Ryan 5, A Sullivan 6; B Allen 6, N Dunne 5, N McNamee 7. Subs: T Deehan 6 for A Sullivan (35), N Darby 5 for N Dunne (48), K Casey 5 for Allen (51), J Reynolds 5 for S Ryan (51), J Quinn for Lonergan (65).

Ref — P O’Sullivan (Kerry).