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Leinster SFC: Louth register win

Conor Grimes, Louth, and Dylan Furlong, Wexford, in Leinster SFC action. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Conor Grimes, Louth, and Dylan Furlong, Wexford, in Leinster SFC action. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Leinster SFC Quarter-Final

Louth 4-10 Wexford 0-15

By Paul Keane at Laois Hire O'Moore ParkIt took Louth 13 years to return to a Leinster SFC decider in 2023 but the Wee County are now just one more win from making it back-to-back final appearances.

Ger Brennan's side, who finished strongly in Portlaoise with two late goals from captain Sam Mulroy, will return to Croke Park on April 28 for a last four date with Kildare.

Whilst the Lilywhites required a late, late score to see off Wicklow in the earlier quarter-final in Portlaoise, Louth made life a little easier on themselves on the same windswept pitch with a seven-point margin in the end.

It wasn't entirey plain sailing though as they led by just three approaching the hour mark and it was only when Mulroy snatched a 59th minute goal from a penalty that they began to breathe out following a terrific effort from Wexford.

Mulroy added a second goal from a spot kick eight minutes later with the industrious Ciaran Keenan fouled on both occasions.

Mulroy finished with 2-4 in total with all of his scores coming from placed balls. Louth's first two goals were scored by Ciaran Downey while Tommy Durnin, the Jacksons and Ryan Burns drilled important points too.

It's another big step in the right direction for manager Ger Brennan after consolidating their Division 2 status in spring while Wexford, who operated two grades lower in Division 4, will have another opportunity to challenge for the Tailtenan Cup.

Wexford, whose captain Liam Coleman provided them with a foothold at mdifield, were chasing a first quarter-final win since beating Longford a decade ago and they led for the majority of the first-half after a bright opening.

Ben Brosnan was a late addition to their published lineup, making his 177th appearance for the county, though it was his colleague in the inside forward line Graeme Cullen that impressed initially.

Cullen fired three points as Wexford opened up a 0-8 to 0-4 lead after 27 minutes, defying the wind and outbreaks of rain with some impressive bursts up the pitch.

One of those came in the 14th minute and resulted in a Cullen point though Louth fans were aghast as they argued that Ryan Burns had been fouled by Tom Moran at the other end and that a penalty should have been awarded.

Wexford capitalised on that occasion with the lightning fast counter-attack while they profited generally from Mark Rossiter's influence in attack.

The wing-forward nailed one point and hit the crossbar on another occasion, resulting in an eventual score for Cullen.

Louth, who held their own again this season in Division 2, were surprisingly clinging on against the Division 4 outfit but suddenly burst into life late in the half with an unanswered 1-2.

Durnin pinched a point before Downey eventually tied it up at 1-5 to 0-8, slamming to the net for Louth after a series of quick hand-passes across the 20-metre line found him free on the left.

Tom Jackson capped off the scoring surge with a Louth point to nudge them ahead for the first-time, 1-6 to 0-8, and it remained that way at the break.

Wexford's Glen Malone tied it up shortly after the restart before a goalmouth scramble at the other end in the 40th minute. Burns and Sam Mulroy both had shots blocked, firstly by the goalkeeper and then by defender Darragh Lyons. Wexford got away with that one though corner-back Eoin Porter was shown a black card when the dust settled.

Wexford coped with the loss well, winning that 10-minute period by 0-1 to 0-0, Sean Nolan with the score to edge them back in front.

The final 20 minutes was all about Louth though as they pushed on for the anticipated win with captain Mulroy taking on the responsibility twice from the penalty spot in the 59th and 67th minutes.

Scorers for Louth: Sam Mulroy 2-4 (2-0 pens, 4fs), Ciaran Downey 2-0, Tommy Durnin 0-2, Conor Grimes 0-1 (m), Tom Jackson 0-1, Liam Jackson 0-1, Ryan Burns 0-1.

Scorers for Wexford: Graeme Cullen 0-3, Sean Nolan 0-3 (2fs), Glen Malone 0-2, Liam Coleman 0-2 (1 45), Mark Rossiter 0-2, Paraic Hughes 0-2, Kevin O'Grady 0-1.

Louth: Niall McDonnell; Donal McKenny, Dermot Campbell, Peter Lynch; Leonard Grey, Anthony Williams, Conall McKeever; Tommy Durnin, Ciaran Murphy; Ciaran Downey, Ciaran Keenan, Conor Grimes; Ryan Burns, Sam Mulroy, Tom Jackson.

Subs: Liam Jackson for Tom Jackson 46, Niall Sharkey for Grey 46, Bevan Duffy for Murphy 46, Dan Corcoran for Campbell 62, Paul Matthews for Durnin 68.

Wexford: Rory Tubritt; Gavin Sheehan, Darragh Lyons, Eoin Porter; Dylan Furlong, Paraic Hughes, Glen Malone; Liam Coleman, Niall Hughes; Kevin O'Grady, Eoghan Nolan, Mark Rossiter; Graeme Cullen, Sean Nolan, Ben Brosnan.

Subs: Tom Byrne for Eoghan Nolan 49, Conor Kinsella for Brosnan 49, Richie Waters for Cullen 61, Shane Pettit for Rossiter 66, Jonathan Bealin for O'Grady 70.

Referee: Seamus Mulhare (Laois).