Leinster SFC: Wexford edge out Wicklow
Leinster SFC first round
WEXFORD 2-11 WICKLOW 0-14
By John Fallon in Aughrim
Wexford secured their first Leinster SFC win since 2014 to set up a quarter-final date with All-Ireland champions Dublin after this fine win in Aughrim.
Neither side used the wind particularly well but Wexford dug in deep in the second-half against it to carve out a deserved win.
Wexford had the stiff breeze behind them in the opening half but only led by 1-5 to 0-6 at the break. Their cause was not helped by eight wides to two for Wicklow in that first-half.
Wexford were forced into late changes with Ben Brosnan not starting because of a hamstring injury and then when he was introduced after seven minutes he only lasted 12 minutes, while goalkeeper Pa Doyle was injured in the warm-up and was replaced by Darragh Brooks.
But Wexford put those set-backs behind them to make a superb start with Mark Rossiter shooting a third minute goal after good work from Michael Furlong and John Tubritt.
Arran Murphy got Wicklow off the mark after a good solo and after Rossiter responded for Wexford with a fine point from the left, Davy Byrne’s men hit back with points from Patrick O’Connor, Chris O’Brien and Padraig O’Toole to tie the sides at 1-1 to 0-4 at the first water break.
Rossiter edged Wexford back in front with a free but Mark Kenny cancelled this after a good run before Padraig Hughes and John Turbitt landed points in a good spell for Wexford.
O’Connor’s second point of the game for Wicklow cut the gap to the minimum but Wexford took a two point advantage into the break when Rossiter landed a superb effort from the left to increase his haul to 1-3.
Wexford were temporarily reduced to 14 men at the start of the second-half when midfielder Daithi Waters picked up a black card for an incident with Andy Maher which happened just before the interval.
Turbitt and Rossiter pointed either side of another O’Connor Wicklow point but the next five points came from the home side as they used the wind well.
Murphy, Chris O’Brien and Conor Byrne got them level before Murphy put Wicklow ahead for the first time in the game after 44 minutes and then goalkeeper Mark Jackson extended the lead with a free from 50 metres on the left.
Donal Shanley pulled back a free to leave Wexford trailing by a point, 0-12 to 1-8, at the second water break.
The game remained scoreless for the next eleven minutes as both sides failed to take chances but then Martin O’Connor burst forward and blasted to the net after taking a return pass from Liam Coleman to regain the lead after 61 minutes, with another Rossiter point pushing them 2-9 to 0-12 with eight minutes left and they held on from there.
Scorers for Wexford: Mark Rossiter 1-6 (0-1f), Martin O’Connor 1-0, John Turbitt 0-2, Donal Shanley 0-2 (0-2f), Paraic Hughes 0-1.
Scorers for Wicklow: Patrick O’Connor 0-4, Arran Murphy 0-3, Chris O’Brien 0-2 (0-2f), Mark Jackson 0-2 (0-2f), Padraig O’Toole 0-1, Mark Kenny 0-1, Conor Byrne 0-1.
WEXFORD: Darragh Brooks; Martin O’Connor, Gavin Sheehan, Liam O’Connor; Paraic Hughes, Brian Malone, Michael Furlong; Daithi Waters, Liam Coleman; Tom Byrne, Sean Nolan, Kevin O’Grady; John Turbitt, Eoghan Nolan, Mark Rossiter. Substitutes: Ben Brosnan for Nolan (7), Donal Shanley for Brosnan (19), Niall Hughes for Nolan (47), Eoghan Porter for L O’Connor (57), Alan Tobin for O’Grady (58).
WICKLOW: Mark Jackson; Arran Murphy, Eoin Murtagh, Oisin Manning; Darragh Fitzgerald, Niall Donnelly, David Deveraux; Padraig O’Toole, John Paul Hurley; Andy Maher, Mark Kenny, Conor Byrne; Chris O’Brien, Seanie Furlong, Patrick O’Connor.
Substitutes: Paul Cunningham for Fitzgerald (40), Daniel Keane for O’Brien (55), John Sheeran for Hurley (62), Fintan O’Shea for Cunningham (68), Saoirse Kearon for D Devereaux (69), Pat Burke for Maher (69).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).