Wexford ease past Carlow to set up Kilkenny showdown
Davy Fitzgerald’s side deliver a composed performance to secure first Leinster win
Conor McDonald scores for Wexford against Carlow. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Wexford 2-28 Carlow 0-19
Wexford have set themselves up for a final round showdown with Kilkenny as a storming second half helped them to a hugely impressive 15 point victory over Carlow at Inovate Wexford Park.
Wexford, having played draws in their two opening games, knew a victory was essential to ensure they keep the pressure up for a place in the provincial final, but they will also realise they will need to show more composure over the entire 70 minutes if they are to deal with a Kilkenny challenge which should ensure a packed home venue.
Wexford had to weather a strong first half challenge from a Martin Kavanagh inspired Carlow side, but once Lee Chin opened his shoulders in the second half, coupled with the sparkling form of Conor McDonald, they quickly took control of the game on the resumption, as they increased the tempo of their game, with Carlow always playing catch-up.
Wexford needed a reaction from the start to settle the crowd, and following two quickfire points from McDonald and a Chin free, they struck for their opening goal after just five minutes when Chin played a great ball across into the path of Rory O’Connor, who showed superb control before finishing with a delightful shot to the corner of the net giving his side a 1-2 to 0-0 lead.
Carlow were clearly stunned by the ferocity of the Wexford opening and took some time to settle into the game, but it was the accuracy of Kavanagh that hauled them back into contention and with a string of superb pointed frees, Carlow were right back in the game only trailing by two points at the interval, 1-10 to 0-11.
Carlow, seeking their first win of the campaign, strove valiantly on the resumption to get themselves back into the game but still continued to struggle for scores after Wexford had opened the second period with unanswered points from Chin, Paul Morris and McDonald, stretching into a 1-13 to 0-11 lead.
Carlow made a number of positional changes as Ed Byrne opened their second half account with a 41st minute point, but it was Wexford with superb points from Rory O’Connor, Chin, McDonald and Cathal Dunbar who continued to stretch out in front. Marty Kavanagh pointed a free but the goal they needed failed to arrive and it was Wexford who got that crucial breakthrough when McDonald found the net after 55 minutes, giving his side much needed breathing space, leading 2-18 to 0-16.
While Carlow continued to battle for scores it was the composure of Wexford which saw them through comfortable in the end.
Wexford: M Fanning; D Reck, L Ryan, S Donohoe; P Foley (0-2), M O’Hanlon, S Murphy; K Foley, D O’Keeffe (0-2); R O’Connor (1-1), P Morris (0-2), L Og McGovern; C Dunbar (0-2), L Chin (0-11, seven frees, one 65), C McDonald (1-5). Subs: A Nolan for Morris (50); D Dunne (0-2) for R O’Connor (60); S Casey (0-1) for McGovern (60), Joe O’Connor for Dunbar (65).
Carlow: B Tracey; K McDonald, P Doyle, M Doyle; E Nolan, D English, R Coady; J Kavanagh, S Whelan (0-1); J M Nolan (0-2), M Kavanagh (0-12, eight frees), E Byrne (0-1); J Doyle (0-1) T Joyce, C Nolan (0-2). Subs: J Nolan for Joyce (56); S Murphy for Byrne (64); G Coadyt for M Doyle (65); D Byrne for J M Nolan (66).
Referee: C Cunning (Antrim).