Wexford keep their summer alive as they trim Galway in comprehensive fashion

Henry Shefflin: ‘It’s probably been the most disappointed I’ve been in a dressingroom since I took charge of this team’

Galway’s Cianan Fahy and Fintan Burke block a shot from Rory O'Connor of Wexford during the Leinster SHC game at Chadwicks Wexford Park. Photograph: Leah Scholes/Inpho
Leinster SHC: Wexford 1-28 Galway 0-23

Someone in Wexford pressed the summer switch just in time, and as if on cue ignited some old familiar fire in the Yellowbellies. No looking back now.

When, in the Saturday evening sunshine, the Wexford supporters poured on to the field it was all in the moment, this magnificent victory putting hope and reason back into their summer beyond the May Bank Holiday at least.

It was also their first championship win over Galway since the 1996 All-Ireland semi-final, Wexford supporters well aware of what happened after that. This guarantees nothing – but does leave the top four teams in Leinster all on three points, with everything still to play for.

Effectively a knock-out game for Wexford, the eight-point margin thoroughly entertained the crowd of 6,170, and didn’t flatter them either, the Galway challenge eventually wilting against the ferocity and determination of the home team. Wexford finished with 10 different scorers, and not an inch of ground where they didn’t lord over Galway.

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If Wexford manager Keith Rossiter hinted that he saw it coming, Henry Shefflin clearly did not, describing it afterwards as “the most disappointed” he’d ever felt in the Galway dressingroom in his now three seasons in charge.

“I always knew it was in them,” Rossiter said, his team conceding two late goals in the opening round draw with Dublin, before falling to Antrim last weekend. “Look, we didn’t mean to do what happened over the last couple of weeks, didn’t mean to draw with Dublin. We were probably unlucky. Up in Antrim we could have won it as easily as we lost it.

“Over 150 minutes plus of hurling, there was maybe 10 minutes bad for us. Without a result, but we had a point on the board before today, we’ve three now, and back in the hunt again.

“And in fairness I think the genuine honest supporters came out to support us. The people who really have our backs. You are going to get your keyboard warriors, there was a lot of talk during the week, but the genuine Wexford supporters came out.”

Galway drew with Kilkenny last weekend after easing past Carlow in round one, but far more worrying than the result here was Galway’s near complete apathy, and Shefflin didn’t deny it.

“It’s probably been the most disappointed I’ve been in a dressingroom since I took charge of this team,” he said. “I suppose we didn’t see it coming, we didn’t see it coming at half-time. I must give credit to Wexford again. In the first half I think it was a bit cagey, an error-ridden game, but once they got the goal then in the second half they really came to life and I must say they performed very well.

Wexford's Cian Byrne reacts to being awarded a free. Photograph: Leah Scholes/Inpho

“On the flip side, a very poor [Galway] performance. We looked tired, we really struggled to get any flow in the game whatsoever so very, very disappointing. They were playing at championship pace I’d say. And even last week we struggled to get to that championship pace that Kilkenny brought. We were hoping we’d be better on the back of that game, but unfortunately it wasn’t the case.”

Wexford’s breakthrough goal came on 40 minutes: after a searing run by Richie Lawlor, who passed to Rory O’Connor who fired home from distance. With that Wexford were up 1-15 to 0-14 and never looked back.

Still they didn’t make it easy on themselves, down to 14 men 10 minutes later when Cian Byrne was shown a straight red card for a dangerous charge on Galway replacement Donal O’Shea. Rossiter was not happy about that call.

Up 1-22 to 0-18 going into the last 10 minutes, O’Connor signed off the deal with his sixth from play late on, the brilliant Lee Chin showing the way from the front as well, finishing with 0-11.

Chin, making his 51st championship appearance, started at full forward again and once again proved central to Wexford’s scoring threat, notching 0-7 in the first half, including three gems from play.

Level twice inside the first 10 minutes, Chin, Conor McDonald, Damien Reck and Conor Hearne combined to press Wexford forward with increasing intent, Galway struggling to get a grip on the game and with that Wexford were up 0-9 to 0-5 after 21 minutes and fully deserving it too.

Galway’s only decent spell came towards the end of the first half, hitting four unanswered points, Ronan Glennan and Conor Whelan leading the way, while Evan Niland proved safe over the placed ball.

Both teams exchanged a flurry of scores before the break, Niland adding two more frees in between Byrne and McDonald. Wexford’s two-point advantage, 0-15 to 0-13, could have been more.

Ultimately Galway had no answer to Wexford’s desire, and Shefflin saw no quick fix either.

“Well I don’t think there’s one thing, that’s the major problem for ourselves. It’s very hard to put your finger on it at the moment, we just need a spark from somewhere, we’re lacking that spark currently. And if I could get one thing, that’s what I’d like to see.”

WEXFORD: M Fanning (0-2, 2f); S Rock, C Foley (0-1), E Ryan; L Ryan, D Reck (0-1), M O’Hanlon; C Hearne (0-1), R Lawlor; L Óg McGovern (0-1) R O’Connor (1-6), J O’Connor; C Byrne (0-3), L Chin (capt) (0-11, 6f, 1 65), C McDonald (0-1). Subs: C Dunbar (0-1) for J O’Connor (37 mins, inj), M Dwyer for McDonald (68).

GALWAY: D Fahy; J Grealish, D Burke, F Burke; G McInerney, P Mannion (0-1), C Fahy (0-1); R Glennon (0-1), G Lee (0-2); T Monaghan (0-2), E Niland (0-11, 10 frees), B Concannon (0-1); C Whelan (capt) (0-2), C Cooney (0-1), J Cooney. Subs: A Tuohey for Grealish, D O’Shea for Glennan (both 47 mins), J Flynn (0-1) for McInerney (65), D McLoughlin for Concannon (68).

Referee: Seán Stack (Dublin).

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics