Inspired Wexford force replay
Tipperary 1-16 Wexford 3-10
Two goals from Larry O’Gorman lifted Wexford to another remarkable second half comeback to deny Tipperary a place in the All-Ireland final in a thrilling semi-final clash at Croke Park this afternoon.
The introduction of Martin Storey, having stepped out of inter-county retirement, midway through the second half gave a huge lift to the Wexford team and supporters and set Tipperary, who dominated large periods of the game, into a state of panic.
Mitch Jordan’s fourth point two minutes into injury time levelled the game for the sixth time - a scenario that seemed so remote at the break - to force the replay next Saturday at headquarters.
The first half started at an unsteady pace with neither side settling well on the slippery underfoot conditions.
Wexford got off the mark first with a Paul Codd free but had goalkeeper Damian Fitzhenry, quarter-final hero against Limerick, to thank only moments later.
Fitzhenry, scorer of two goals against Limerick two weeks ago, was at his brilliant best making three gutsy saves during the half.
After eight minutes, Lar Corbett left the Wexford defence trailing and had only Fitzhenry to beat. However, the big ‘keeper made a magnificent save to deny the Tipp corner forward from stretching his side into an early advantage.
Wexford remained in touch through Mitch Jordan and Paul Codd but met a baron spell late in the half, failing to register a score in a poor 16 minute period.
Tipperary, on the other hand, pressed home their dominance with five of their six forwards pointing.
Having saved brilliantly from Declan Ryan in the 17th and 24th minute, Fitzhenry could do little about Tipperary’s opening goal four minutes from half-time.
John Carroll, wearing the number five jersey but playing at centre half forward, scrapped hard among the Wexford defence before shooting from the ground high into the Wexford goal.
Tipperary finished the half very strongly and summoned another excellent save from Fitzhenry in injury time. Nicky English’s side led by a comfortable 1-9 to 0-5 at the interval.
Ten minutes after the restart O’Gorman netted the first of his two crucial goals. Needing the scores, Wexford launched a massive ball down field into the Tipperary area.
O’Gorman, switched to midfield from half-back, read the dropping ball before skillfully collecting and whipping the sliotar over the head of the onrushing Paul Ormonde to beat Cummins from close range.
That goal reduced the gap to five points but Wexford still had plenty left in the scoring tank. Four minutes later, Rory McCarthy capitalised on Philip Maher’s botched catch and Cummins’ poor clearance, to bat the ball into the net and leave Tony Dempsey’s side two points off the lead.
However, despite another Jordan point, Wexford lost their momentum and allowed Tipperary re-establish a five point cushion courtesy of tidy work from, among others, midfielder Tommy Dunne.
With four minutes to play however, Wexford seized the initiative once more and clawed within one point after O’Gorman’s second goal. Tipperary were now on the back foot and some sloppy marking allowed Jordan steal away to record the equalising point, forcing the replay next weekend.