Ronan Fagan reports from Chadwicks Wexford Park
WEXFORD PRODUCED A late flourish to add to Offaly’s relegation worries after Saturday’s Allianz National Hurling League Division 1 duel at blustery Chadwicks Wexford Park.
A 48th minute penalty goal from Luke O’Connor gave Offaly a fighting chance of a first victory in Group A on their return to the top-flight as they battled into a 2-10 to 1-12 advantage.
But Wexford overcame a troubled display with a strong closing surge, accounting for ten of the last twelve points to maintain their push for the league semi-finals with a 100% record under new boss Darragh Egan.
Offaly must now win on the road against Limerick if they are to have any chance of avoiding the relegation play-off.
But after hammerings against Galway, Cork and Clare, the midlanders offered plenty of encouragement in this latest outing, which was preceded by an immaculate minute’s silence for Paul Shefflin, a Ballyhale Shamrocks’ club-mate of Offaly manager Michael Fennelly who passed suddenly.
Wind-assisted Offaly boosted their boss’s spirits as they crafted a 1-3 to 0-2 advantage when Luke O’Connor netted in the thirteenth minute after being located unmarked by a smart cross from Paddy Clancy.
Wexford’s Laurie Foley tackles David Nally of Offaly.
Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
Wexford were underwhelming. But the free-taking of Rory O’Connor and a Diarmuid O’Keeffe equaliser hauled them back level after 21 minutes (0-6 to 1-3).
However, despite incurring a booking for a late challenge in the build up to the O’Keeffe leveller, Offaly midfielder Adrian Cleary immediately restored their advantage which climbed to 1-6 to 0-6 after 25 minutes.
But Wexford transformed matters by 1-8 to 1-7 at half-time after Rory O’Connor burst in from the extreme left to ram to the net with an equalising goal before tagging on the lead score from an injury-time free.
A quick Luke O’Connor double saw Offaly reassert by 1-9 to 1-8 after 39 minutes.
And a foul on Eoghan Parlon paved the way for O’Connor to drill home a 48th minute penalty to lead 2-9 to 1-10. And after Wexford tied matters for a fifth time, O’Connor nudged Offaly back in front on 55 minutes (2-10 to 1-12).
Wexford eventually shook off their lethargy as they produced an unstoppable late charge, Rory O’Connor, substitute Connal Flood and corner-back Conor Devitt fashioning a 1-15 to 2-10 transformation after 57 minutes.
They maintained the thrust, with O’Connor forcing a fine save while teenager Corey Byrne-Dunbar rounded off the scoring on his league debut with a point as Wexford came good to leave Offaly frustrated after a promising effort.
Scorers for Wexford: Rory O’Connor (1-11, 0-9 frees), Connal Flood, Conor McDonald, Kevin Foley (0-2 each), Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Liam Óg McGovern, Conor Devitt, Jack O’Connor, Corey Byrne-Dunbar (0-1 each).
Scorers for Offaly: Luke O’Connor (2-6, 1-0 penalty, 0-4 frees), Adrian Cleary, Joey Keenaghan (0-2 each), Paddy Clancy, Stephen Corcoran (0-1 free).
1. James Lawlor (Ferns St Aidan’s)
2. Shane Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien), 3. Matthew O’Hanlon (St James’), 4. Conor Devitt (Tara Rocks)
5. Gavin Bailey (Ferns St Aidan’s), 6. Damien Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien), 9. Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Anne’s)
12. Conor Hearne (Shelmaliers), 7. Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s)
10. Charlie McGuckin (Naomh Eanna), 11. Oisín Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn), 8. Kevin Foley (Rapparees, capt.)
15. Rory Higgins (Rathnure St Anne’s), 14. Conor McDonald (Naomh Eanna), 13. Rory O’Connor (St Martin’s)
26. Liam Óg McGovern (St Anne’s) for McGuckin (42)
21. Corey Byrne Dunbar (Ferns St Aidan’s) for Higgins (42)
23. Connal Flood (Cloughbawn) for Bailey (44)
24. Paudie Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn) for McDonald (62)
18. Cian Byrne (Fethard) for Hearne (66)
1 Stephen Corcoran (Coolderry)
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4 Paddy Delaney (Kinnitty), 3 Ben Conneely (St. Rynagh’s, capt.), 2 Jack Screeney (Kilcormac-Killoughey)
7 Killian Sampson (Shinrone), 6 David King (Coolderry), 5 Ciarán Burke (Durrow)
8 Joey Keenaghan (Clodiagh Gaels), 23 Adrian Cleary (Shinrone)
10 Brian Duignan (Durrow), 11 Jason Sampson (Shrinone), 12 Eoghan Parlon (Coolderry)
15 Luke O’Connor (St. Rynagh’s), 14 Paddy Clancy (Belmont), 13 Liam Langton (Clodiagh Gaels)
9 Eimhin Kelly (Lusmagh) for Delaney (HT)
25 John Murphy (Ballinamere) for Duignan (48)
22 David Nally (Belmont) for Langton (62)
17 Pádraig Cantwell (Shamrocks) for Clancy (67)
24 Morgan Watkins (Birr) for Parlon (70)
Referee: Nathan Wall (Cork)
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