By Kieran Murphy
WEXFORD were easy winners in this Leinster under-21 football championship first round game in Netwatch Cullen Park on Wednesday. There are games where beaten teams can claim the scoreline doesn’t do justice to their efforts. Sadly, this is not the case here. Carlow put up pockets of resistance but from a long way out there was only going to be one result
In the opening minutes, Carlow twice held a one-point lead. In the first minute, a sweetly struck Shane O’Neill free sailed over. After Niall Hughes levelled for Wexford, Sean Bambrick converted another free. That was as good as it got for the home side. Off balance Mikey Dwyer shot a fine leveller for Wexford and Ian Carty fired over two points from play.
Tom Byrne had a goal chance for Wexford but he shot into the side netting on eight minutes. The clingy wet weather was awful but the players did well in the circumstances.
Both sides overdid the handpassing at times. As the game went into the second quarter it was beginning to look ominous for Carlow who were unable to create chances. By half-time Wexford led 0-10 to 0-5. In contrast to Carlow’s five points from placed balls, the Wexford total was all from play. It wasn’t until the second minute of second-half injury time the Model County actually converted a free. It wasn’t poor marksmanship. There was a positive for Carlow in that they didn’t give away too many frees while they themselves were awarded 18 over the hour.
Minutes into the second half the home side had a goal chance but Shane O’Neill blasted over the bar.
On the redemption trail, Wexford’s Tom Byrne made up for that earlier missed goal effort by stroking over two points. As Carlow grew weary Daire Barden came forward from his left half-back position to claim a point. The Wexford goal arrived when Paddy Devereaux fed Mikey Dwyer who had an easy finish.
In the final quarter Darren Lunney became only the third Carlow player to get on the scoresheet when he took a neat score from play. For Wexford it was a case of individuals making claims for starting places next time out.
With two points Darragh Pepper caught the eye. In contrast, Dillon Redmond came on and left almost immediately when he picked up a black card.
There was little for Carlow to take away. Pride in wearing a jersey for sure, but they didn’t do themselves justice on a difficult night. They are better than they showed. The problem is you only get one chance in this competition.
Wexford: Matt Doyle; Sean Barden, Ronan Devereaux, Arnie Murphy; Conor Firman (0-1), Naomhan Rossiter, Daire Barden (0-1); Niall Hughes (0-2), Paddy Devereaux; Jake Firman, Ian Carty (0-4), James Stafford; Mikey Dwyer (1-3), Tom Byrne (0-4, 0-1 free), Mark Rossiter (0-1). Subs: Daire Bolger for J Firman (49 mins), Martin O’ Connor for Stafford (55 mins), Dillon Redmond for Murphy (57 mins), Darragh Pepper (0-2) for C. Firman (58 mins), Martin O’Connor for Hughes (58 mins), Glen Malone for Redmond (black card 62 mins).
Carlow: Ciaran Byrne (Tinryland); Conor O’Doherty (Palatine), John Murphy (Tinryland), Niall Lowry (Tinryland); Darren Crooks (St Andrew’s), Cathal Gaffney (Tinryland), Jack Brennan (Palatine); Ian Atkinson (Michael Davitts), Peter Hennessy (Tinryland); Sean Bambrick (0-1, Michael Davitts), Jamie Clarke (St Andrew’s), Cathal Bailey (Grange); Darren Lunney (0-1, Michael Davitts), Shane O’Neill (0-6 0-5 frees, Palatine), Donal Smithers (Naomh Eoin). Subs: Colm Byrne (Michael Davitts) for Bailey (42 mins), Conor Foley for Atkinson (40 mins), Conor Reynolds (Palatine) for Brennan (50 mins), Conor McGrath (Tinryland) for Crooks (55 mins), Mark Lawlor (Tinryland) for Hennessy (60 mins).
Referee: Christy O’Dwyer (Offaly).