Allianz HL SF: Waterford cruise to victory
Allianz Hurling League semi-final
Waterford 5-20 Wexford 0-16
By Ronan Fagan at UPMC Nowlan Park
Austin Gleeson’s scored 2-3, but was then sent off as Waterford stormed through to an all-Munster Allianz Hurling League Division One final against Cork when dismantling Wexford at UPMC Nowlan Park.
Gleeson bagged a first-half double as Liam Cahill’s men dominated in constructing a 3-9 to 0-10 interval advantage, and second-half majors from Jack Prendergast and Shane Bennett – the latter among a list of top names kept in reserve – cemented Waterford’s passage to the decider for the first time since 2019.
The excellent Gleeson was red carded after referee John Keenan consulted with his umpires following an altercation between Gleeson and Simon Donohoe.
Waterford began this derby at feverish pace, and although the sides shared the first two points, the Munster contenders were clearly out to rumble their neighbours as they produced a series of penetrating bursts on goal.
Indeed, Dessie Hutchinson forced two early ‘65s, the second of which saw Patrick Curran nudge them back in front after four minutes (0-2 to 0-1).
The pressure was unrelenting from the fleet-footed Waterford attack, and they ultimately breached the Wexford goal on five minutes when Gleeson nabbed a Wexford puck-out and stole through to rifle to the net (1-2 to 0-1).
Wexford were struggling, but Darragh Egan’s charges nevertheless managed to tie on 0-7 to 1-4 after 17 minutes with a string of scores from Charlie McGuckin, Rory O’Connor (2), Damien Reck, Mikie Dwyer and Diarmuid O’Keeffe.
However, Waterford immediately hammered home their superiority when Austin Gleeson fed off Patrick Curran to net his second goal (2-4 to 0-7).
And Wexford woes were added to as they flashed six wides while Waterford continued to build a head of steam as they burst clear by 3-9 to 0-7 on 30 minutes.
Gleeson (2), Jack Fagan, Michael Kiely and Patrick Curran (free) sprinkled points around a 29th minute Dessie Hutchinson goal after a dashing run from Darragh Lyons.
Wexford eventually got to the refuge of half-time in arrears by 3-9 to 0-10 after late scores from Paudie Foley (two frees) and teenager Oisín Pepper.
In the 42nd minute Jack Prendergast rounded off a length of the field counter-attack by blowing open a 4-12 to 0-10 divide.
Patrick Curran extended the gulf to 15 points from a subsequent free.
Wexford supporters were eventually given a cause for cheer when Lee Chin emerged from the ‘bench for his first appearance of the season.
And he set up fellow substitute Jack O’Connor for a point before Chin was denied by Conor Gleeson as he attempted to work a goal.
An exodus of supporters was finally sparked on 62 minutes when Shane Bennett burst in from the right to bat to the net (5-16 to 0-15).
Austin Gleeson got into his spot of bother shortly afterwards, while both sides finished with 14 men, as Jack O’Connor incurred a second yellow card as Wexford are left to right their ship ahead of the Leinster Championship opener against Galway after this sobering experience.
Scorers for Waterford: Austin Gleeson 2-3 (0-1 free), Patrick Curran 0-7 (2 ‘65s, 5 frees), Dessie Hutchinson 1-3, Jack Prendergast, Shane Bennett 1-0 each, Michael Kiely, Jack Fagan, Pauric Mahony (1 free) 0-2 each, Neil Montgomery 0-1.
Scorers for Wexford: Rory O’Connor 0-5 (3 frees), Pádraig Foley 0-2 (frees), Conor McDonald, Charlie McGuckin, Damien Reck, Mikie Dwyer, Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Oisín Pepper, Jack O’Connor, Connal Flood, Lee Chin (free) 0-1 each.
Waterford: Shaun O’Brien; Conor Gleeson, Iarlaith Daly, Shane McNulty; Jack Fagan, Tadhg de Burca, Carthach Daly; Darragh Lyons, Austin Gleeson; Neil Montgomery, Jack Prendergast, Patrick Curran; Colin Dunford, Michael Kiely, Dessie Hutchinson.
Subs: Shane Bennett for Dunford, inj. (24), Kieran Bennett for Kiely (53), Tom Barron for Daly (60), Calum Lyons for Fagan (60), Pauric Mahony for Lyons (63).
Wexford: Mark Fanning; Matthew O’Hanlon, Liam Ryan, Simon Donohoe; Kevin Foley, Pádraig Foley, Damien Reck; Cathal Dunbar, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Liam Óg McGovern, Rory O’Connor, Charlie McGuckin; Oisín Pepper, Conor McDonald, Mikie Dwyer.
Subs: Oisín Foley for Pepper (42), Jack O’Connor for Dunbar (42), Rory Higgins for McDonald, inj. (47), Lee Chin for Dwyer (54), Connal Flood for K. Foley (60).
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).