Allianz HL D1: Wexford cruise to victory
Allianz Hurling League Division One Group B
WEXFORD 4-17 LAOIS 0-10
By Ronan Fagan at Chadwicks Wexford Park
Wexford finished with a real flourish in Sunday's Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B encounter at a blustery Chadwicks Wexford Park.
A double-goal blast from Mikie Dwyer, in his second campaign, and late additions from substitute Rory O’Connor and debutant midfielder Conor Hearne headlined Wexford’s much anticipated victory in this dress rehearsal for the June 26th rematch in the Leinster Championship quarter-final.
Laois promised much only to shoot themselves in the foot by driving a hefty 20 wides.
The sides shared four points during a lively opening, Harry Kehoe accounting twice for Wexford while also being denied a goal, before Conor McDonald nudged the home-side 0-3 to 0-2 ahead at the first drinks break.
Conor Hearne marked his debut with a tidy point before providing a classy assist for Mikie Dwyer to net twice in quick succession to propel Wexford ahead by 2-4 to 0-2 after 25 minutes. Dwyer flicked home Hearne’s pass before latching onto a long free from Jack O’Connor to net from the edge of the square after 25 minutes.
Laois were squandering chances – shooting 10 first-half wides – while Ross King went close to goaling approaching half-time, at which juncture Wexford were savouring a 2-6 to 0-4 lead having faced the strong wind.
Wexford struggled to maximise any benefit of the elements as eight points continued to separate the sides (2-9 to 0-7) before Laois were reduced to 14 players for 10minutes with defender Lee Cleere’s sin-binning.
Late on Wexford responded by out-shooting Laois by 2-8 to 0-3 in the closing stages.
Seamus Casey, a promising attacker in recent years but a surprise selection in goal, even contributed when pointing a long-range free before the purple-and-gold put the gloss on things with a brace of injury-time goals.
Sub Rory O’Connor left the Laois defence trailing as he burst through to produce an angled finish to the Town End net, before midfielders Diarmuid O’Keeffe and Conor Hearne exchanged a series of passes to leave the defence at sixes and sevens before Hearne swept home.
Scorers for Wexford: Mikey Dwyer 2-0, Conor Hearne 1-1, Harry Kehoe 0-3 (1f), Lee Chin 0-3 (3fs), Rory O’Connor 1-0, Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-2, Gavin Bailey 0-2, Simon Donohoe 0-2, Conor McDonald 0-1, Jack O’Connor 0-1 ‘65 Seamus Casey 0-1f, Conor Devitt 0-1.
Scorers for Laois: PJ Scully 0-6 (3fs, 1 ’65), Ross King 0-2, Jack Kelly 0-1, Paddy Purcell 0-1.
WEXFORD: Damien Reck, Liam Ryan, Conor Firman, Gavin Bailey, Simon Donohoe, Conal Flood; Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Conor Hearne; Kevin Foley, Jack O’Connor, David Dunne; Mikie Dwyer, Conor McDonald, Harry Kehoe.
Subs: Shane Reck for D. Reck (28), Rory O’Connor for J. O’Connor (40), Lee Chin for Kehoe (40), Liam Óg McGovern for McDonald (50), Aidan Nolan for Dwyer (57), Matthew O’Hanlon for Ryan (67), Conor Devitt for Dunne (67).
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Lee Cleere, Seán Downey, Donnacha Hartnett; Jack Kelly, Podge Delaney, Ryan Mullaney; Fiachra Fennell, Paddy Purcell; Ciarán Comerford, Aaron Dunphy, Ciarán Collier; Ross King, Cha Dwyer, PJ Scully.
Subs: James Ryan for Fennell (temp. 13-16), Ryan for Dunphy (31), Diarmuid Conway for Comerford (53), James Keyes for Purcell (63), Colm Stapleton for Collier (69), Conor Phelan for Fennell (70+2), Ciarán McEvoy for Mullaney (70+2).
REFEREE: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).