Westmeath 1-15 Wexford 2-23
A wasteful Wexford side were not flattered by an 11-point win against a battling Westmeath outfit in Mullingar on Sunday afternoon.
Westmeath, under the tutelage of Wexford native Joe Fortune, scored some outstanding points from play in the first half, none more so than a sublime pull in the air from 2022 All Star nominee Killian Doyle in the 13th minute, and they deservedly led by 0-5 to 0-3 with 13 minutes played.
The Slaneysiders shot 19 wides overall – two shy of their drawn championship encounter at the same venue last year – many of them from good positions. However, they still did enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over, with five of their starting six forwards getting on the scoresheet before the interval. They led at the break by a point, 0-11 to 0-10.
Rory Higgins became the sixth starting Wexford forward to score when he doubled his team’s lead within three minutes of the resumption of play. However, Darragh Egan’s men continued to be profligate.
The visitors still led by two points (0-13 to 0-11) when Conor McDonald netted in the 45th minute, after Liam Óg McGovern’s initial shot had come back off the crossbar. However, the home team responded in the best possible fashion when Owen McCabe scored Westmeath’s first competitive goal of 2023.
Wexford replied almost instantly when impressive half-time sub Ross Banville flicked the sliotar to the net from close range in the 51st minute, thereby more or less removing the possibility of a surprise result.
From then to the end, the winners found scores a little easier to come by without ever looking likely to score a third goal. Killian Doyle’s afternoon ended early when he picked up a second yellow card at the end of normal time.
WESTMEATH: N Conaty; C Shaw, T Doyle, J Galvin; A Craig, R Greville (0-1), D Egerton; S McGovern (0-1), D Glennon (0-1); S Clavin, K Doyle (0-9, eight frees), N O’Brien (0-2); O McCabe (1-0), J Boyle (0-1), K Regan.
Subs: C Doyle for Regan (50 mins); J Bermingham for Clavin (56); S Williams for Glennon, G Greville for Craig (both 63), P Maxwell for McGovern (68).
WEXFORD: M Fanning; I Carty (0-1), D Reck, C Devitt; D Clarke, C Foley, S Donohoe; D O’Keeffe, L Chin (0-5, four frees); C Hearne (0-3), L Óg McGovern (0-1), C McGuckin (0-2); C Dunbar (0-2), C McDonald (1-2), R Higgins (0-2).
Subs: R Banville (1-3, three frees) for Chin (h-t); K Foley for O’Keeffe (54); J O’Connor for Carty (57); C Byrne (0-2) for McGovern (59); M Dwyer for McDonald (67).
Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny).