Wexford survive late Laois surge to make it a perfect five

Davy Fitzgerald says his side have plenty to work on ahead of Kilkenny quarter-final

Davy Fitzgerald believes there is plenty for his Wexford side to improve on ahead of their quarter-final clash with Kilkenny. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Davy Fitzgerald believes there is plenty for his Wexford side to improve on ahead of their quarter-final clash with Kilkenny. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

Wexford 2-24 Laois 2-20

Davy Fitzgerald’s re-invention of Wexford may be coming along nicely but they had to withstand a late Laois surge before eventually emerging with a four point victory in this lacklustre Division 1B national hurling league game played at Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.

At the start of the league few envisaged the model county ending their group games with a one hundred per cent record, which sees them set up a quarter-final clash away to neighbours Kilkenny, while for Laois it’s into the dreaded relegation play-off with Kerry to determined their status for next season.

Wexford may have done the business but their finishing was woeful leaving Fitzgerald to say that it’s an understatement to say ‘we just have to improve’.

‘We had so much of the possession, created so many chances, but like the Offaly game we just failed to put them away. We must learn to put those chances away. The stats will show the number of wides, we must have had double the wide count compared to Laois. There is no doubt there is room for improvement ahead of the quarter-final.’

This was Laois playing in an effort to avoid the relegation play-offs and one could see that in their play. They started with a fine Patrick Purcell opening point, but in the third minute they allowed Lee Chin lots of space to set up David Dunne for a well taken goal, giving Wexford a lead that they found difficulty in building on.

Fine scores were to follow from Conor McDonald, Chin, and Aidan Nolan, but Ross King’s pointed frees kept Laois in contention. It was Laois who were to go on and finish the half strongest with three unanswered points through King, one free, and Willie Dunphy a fine effort off the sideline to go in level 1-10 to 0-13 at the interval.

The highly impressive King pointed a free within thirty seconds of the restart which had Laois in front for the first time since the opening minute, but when Wexford responded with a Diarmuid O’Keeffe thirty-eighth minute goal it left the homeside leading 2-11 to 0-14.

Maybe it was Wexford becoming complacent or Laois’s dogged determination which led to them hanging in, but Wexford still looked comfortable leading 2-20 to 0-20, with eight minutes remaining. Four minutes from the end Neil Foyle shot to the net from an acute angle, to leave the minimum separating the sides, 2-21 to 2-20, but it was Wexford who finished strongest adding points through sub Kevin Foley, Hack Guiney’s e 80m free and David Dunne, to take the points but it was not an impressive performance.

Wexford: M Fanning; A Kenny, L Ryan, W Devereux; A Maddock, M O’Hanlon, D O’Keeffe; E Martin, S Murphy; A Nolan, L Chin, H Kehoe; C McDonald, J Guiney, D Dunne. Subs: D Reck for Maddock (38), B Carton for Martin (49), P Morris for Kehoe (49), K Foley for Mcdonald (55), D Redmond for Nolan (67). Scorers: D Dunne 1-2, D O’Keeffe 1-0, J Guiney 0-7 (3f, 1 ‘65), C McDonald 0-4 (2f), L Chin (1f), P Morris 0-3 each, A Nolan 0-2, M O’Hanlon, E Martin, K Foley 0-1 each.

Laois: E Fleming; L Cleere, L Bergin, D Palmer; C Healy, R Mullaney, S Downey; R King, P Purcell; C Taylor, C Dwyer, B Conroy; W Dunphy, N Foyle, A Dunphy. Subs: P Whelan for Mullaney (34), J Lennon for A Dunphy (ht), E Killeen for Downey (40), J Kelly for P Whelan (60), A Corby for Taylor (69), S Bergin for B Conroy (69). Scorers: R King 0-10 (9f), P Purcell 1-3, N Foyle 1-1, C Dwyer, W Dunphy 0-2 each; C Taylor, B Conroy 0-1 each.

Referee: D Kirwan (Cork)

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