Rory O’Connor inspires Wexford win as they keep up 100% record

Offaly put up strong challenge but home side pull away in final 10 minutes

Wexford 1-22 Offaly 2-12

Having enjoyed a dream start to his managerial career, Darragh Egan is clear about his plans as he looks forward to their final group game against Cork with both sides having already qualified for the league semi-finals.

Rory O’Connor led the hard earned victory march over Offaly at Chadwicks Wexford Park on Saturday afternoon, but Egan was not overly concerned where the scores came from.

“Look we hit 1-22 which was a nice score” said Egan. “It does not matter, really where the scores come from, but we’re happy with our start, four wins out of four, which is something perhaps we did not expect.

“Offaly came well organised, set up a solid defence. We took time to find our game plan, but the lads kept working and came good in the closing quarter. For us, it was also an opportunity to give game time to younger players. Corey Byrne-Dunbar put his hand up in training during the week and deserved to be brought on. He showed very well and took a good point, while Oisin Foley in his first season in the squad led the line superbly. His work rate was immense, while his distribution and all round play was excellent.”

For Egan the win sets up a mouth-watering home game with Cork in less than two weeks’ time.

“We will approach the Cork game like all games up to now. The lads have played seven out of the last eight weekends, for we also had three Walsh Cup games. We will have some downtime, the boys will be given an opportunity to recharge, then we will have an in-house game at the weekend. Whoever puts their hand up will be considered for the Cork game. This game will be approached no different than others”

While defeat was once again their lot, Offaly manager Michael Fennelly was well pleased with the performance.

“I got a performance. We were well in the game until late on. The fact that we face relegation does not come into it at this stage, for we were short up to twelve players through injury, but the team out there today gave a real gutsy performance. We had been conceding four and five goals, which made life difficult, today it was just one.

“Against Limerick we will be looking for a performance. Not many of the injured boys will be back, but we will once again be trying to do ourselves justice. Our aim is to make Offaly hurling competitive again.”

Battle of the O’Connors

Having been the in-form player through this league campaign, O’Connor turned on the style for Wexford with an immaculate opening half as he struck 1-7, 1-1 from play, while he continued his scoring exploits through the second period, adding a further four points as the home side eventually shook off a dogged Offaly challenge.

Offaly enjoyed the ideal start, though, with a Luke O’Connor goal in the 12th minute giving them a 1-3 to 0-2 lead, but once Wexford’s O’Connor found the net following a delightful run on thirty-four minutes they went in with a 1-8 to 1-7 interval lead.

Before Wexford had settled into the second half, Luke O'Connor with two points, one free, had Offaly back in front, but Wexford responded with points from a Rory O'Connor free and sub Liam Og McGovern. Then came a huge boost to Offaly when Luke O'Connor fired home a forty-seventh minute penalty after Eoghan Parlon had been fouled, restoring their lead 2-9 to 1-10 but a delightful Rory O'Connor point off the sideline sealed the points for the home side.

Wexford: J Lawlor; S Reck, M O'Hanlon, C Devitt (0-1); G Bailey, D Reck, J O'Connor (0-1); K Foley (0-2), D O'Keeffe (0-1); C McGuckin, O Foley, C Hearne; R O'Connor (1-11, 0-8 frees), C McDonald (0-2), R Higgins.

Subs: C Byrne-Dunbar (0-1) for Higgins (41 mins), L Og McGovern (0-1) for McGuckin (43 mins), C Flood (0-2) for Bailey (45 mins), P Foley for McDonald (62 mins), C Byrne for Hearne (66 mins).

Offaly: S Corcoran (0-1 free); J Screeney, B Conneely, P Delaney; C Burke, D King, K Sampson; J Keenaghan (0-1), A Cleary (0-2); B Duignan, J Sampson, E Parlon (0-1); L Langton, P Clancy, L O'Connor (2-7, 1-0 pen, 0-4 frees).

Subs: E Kelly for Delanbey (h/t), L Nolan for Duignan (48 mins), D Nally for Langton (62 mins), P Cantwell for Clancy (67 mins), M Watkins for Parlon (69 mins).

Referee: N Wall (Cork).