Chastening day for Offaly as Wexford fire on all cylinders
Faithful County finish with just 12 men as Fitzgerald’s side cruise to victory by 24 points
Offaly’s Seán Gardiner reacts to being sent off after receiving two quick yellow cards before the interval against Wexford at Tullamore. Photograph: Patrick O’Connor/Inpho
Wexford 5-24 Offaly 2-9
Wexford produced a five-star show as they annihilated a shockingly disjointed Offaly in Bord na Mona O’Connor Park.
While it is not mathematically certain, they took a giant step towards the top three with a really top class display that left the home side floundering and searching for answers.
Wexford played some sensational hurling as they simply overpowered Offaly in all sectors. The bare statistics tell an indisputable tale: 5-24 to 2-9 and 17 wides compared to 7.
They were on top in every sector and their pace, power and ability to brush past tackles left Offaly chasing shadows for much of the evening.
Wexford’s dominance was extraordinary as Offaly had targeted this as a game they could win in their desperate fight against relegation to the Joe McDonagh Cup. Against Galway and Kilkenny, Offaly had given somewhat respectable performances but there was absolutely no consolation for them here.
They now face into a must-win game in Parnell Park on Saturday next and Offaly’s cause was not helped by second-half red cards for Oisín Kelly and sub, Ronan Hughes as they finished with just 12 men.
Manager Kevin Martin faces a big challenge to raise morale this week but Wexford will have no such problems for their home game against Galway next weekend.
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald was happy but cautious afterwards as he reflected on a super win.
“I thought Wexford were incredible in the first half,” he smiled. “We had to bring unreal pace to it. I had watched Offaly and I thought they had made big strides.”
The Clare legend was conscious of the fact that it was Offaly’s third game in three weeks and he is wary of what might happen Wexford as they now face into their real big tests against Kilkenny and Galway.
“We felt it might catch up with them. We needed to come at them like a ton of bricks today because they were after having two hard games. It could happen to us in the next few weeks. It is a funny championship. It doesn’t give you any room to catch your breath or reflect.”
He was delighted with the side’s work rate.
“We had 11/12 turnovers by half-time and seven of them were from forwards which is great to see. The lads have come on but still have more to do. We are not the finished article yet but we are moving in the right direction.”
A shellshocked Offaly manager, Kevin Martin, described their performance as “flat” and said he knew that they were off during the warm up as the ball wasn’t “sticking” to the hurls.
“We never showed up really and then ending up with 12 men didn’t help us. To be fair to Wexford, from the word off they were flying at us, running everywhere. We looked at footage of them during the week, the way they play their game. We knew that was going to happen but we just weren’t able to stay with them.”
Wexford were highly motivated for this one and tore into it with abandon from the start. Playing against the wind in the first half, Wexford didn’t allow Offaly one moment to settle and they had the result in the bag from an early stage.
A first-minute goal from Conor McDonald put them in the driving seat. Offaly were shockingly loose and non-existent marking allowed Aidan Nolan in for a goal in the 12th minute to give the Model County a 2-5 to 0-2 lead.
It all unravelled horrifically for Offaly before the interval as Seán Gardiner was dismissed for picking up two yellow cards in the space of three minutes from the 30th to the 33rd minutes. Aidan Nolan’s first effort was saved by Eoghan Cahill but he could do nothing with the second one as Wexford goalkeeper Mark Fanning wrong-footed him.
Wexford led by 3-12 to 2-6 at half time and goals from Lee Chin and the outstanding Jack O’Connor pushed them 5-13 to 0-8 clear by the 43rd minute. After this Wexford eased off, giving several subs a run as Offaly got consolation goals from Oisín Kelly in the 46th minute and Shane Dooley, deep in injury time.
WEXFORD: M Fanning (1-0, p); D Reck (0-1), L Ryan, S Donohoe; P Foley, M O’Hanlon, D O’Keeffe (0-1); K Foley (0-1), S Murphy; L Chin (1-4, 4f), A Nolan (1-1), J O’Connor (1-3); P Morris (0-2), R O’Connor (0-7, 4f and 1 ‘65’), C McDonald (1-1). Subs: C Firman for Donohoe (45m), L Og McGovern for McDonald (50m), H Kehoe (0-3, 1f) for R O’Connor (50m), W Devereux for Morris (53m), D Dunne for Chin (64m), Yellow cards: C McDonald, M O’Hanlon.
OFFALY: E Cahill; P Delaney, S Gardiner, B Conneely; D Egan, P Camon, D O’Toole-Greene; S Kinsella, D King; O Kelly (1-1), C Mahon, B Murphy; S Dooley (1-5, 5f), J Bergin (0-1), K Dunne (0-1). Subs: C Egan for Mahon (h/t), T Geraghty (0-1) for Murphy (H/t), D Currams for Kinsella (42m), P Rigney for Conneely (47m), R Hughes for Bergin (53m), Yellow cards: S Gardiner (2), D King, D Currams, T Geraghty, D O’Toole-Greene, P Camon.
Red cards: O Kelly and R Hughes.
Referee: J. McGrath (Westmeath).
First half 3-12 0-6
Second half 2-12 1-3
Wides 19 7
From play 4-15 2-4
Frees conceded 9 17