Ronan Fagan reports from Innovate Wexford Park
EIGHT UNANSWERED POINTS within the last eight minutes saw Louth outstrip Wexford to land a Leinster SFC quarter-final against reigning provincial and All-Ireland champions Dublin on 25 May.
Wexford appeared to seize the initiative when a Kevin O’Grady penalty helped them pull clear by 1-14 to 0-14 after 61 minutes. But Wayne Kierans’ Louth responded with gusto to extend Wexford’s five-year run without satisfaction in Leinster while setting themselves up for a tilt at Jim Gavin’s monster.
Wexford goalkeeper Matt Doyle was certainly unfortunate to finish on the losing side after effecting three top-class saves on his senior championship debut before Louth assumed control in the closing stages.
The sides traded early points before Louth’s goal threat manifested itself when the home keeper spared Wexford, saving a penalty from Jim McEnaney.
The rather mediocre encounter caused little anxiety for the watching Dubs with the sides tied four more times by the 23rd-minute, as moments after midfielder James Califf had boomed Louth into their first taste of the lead, Ben Brosnan snapped it back to 0-5 apiece.
Jonathan Bealin grew prominent with a brace to drive Wexford ahead by 0-7 to 0-5 prior to the home-side surviving another close shave, when ‘keeper Doyle kept out a bullet from Conal McKeever in the 32nd-minute.
Sam Mulroy pegged back a pointed free for Louth only to squander a similar opportunity as Wexford edged it 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time.
Louth resumed brightly with a brace from Declan Byrne turning the tables by 0-8 to 0-7 within 70 seconds. However, Wexford responded swiftly, as Jonathan Bealin (2) along with defenders Glen Malone and Martin O’Connor asserted home supremacy by 0-11 to 0-9 after 43 minutes.
Louth’s Tommy Durnin celebrates scoring a point.
Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO
But Louth reacted positively with Califf (free) and Byrne levelling matters for a seventh-time before the sides experienced contrasting fortunes in front of goal. Firstly, Jim McEnaney forced another top save from the Wexford netminder, before the locals received a further boost on 48 minutes when Kevin O’Grady buried a penalty won by Eoghan Nolan (1-11 to 0-11).
Wexford held firm as the sides shared the next six scores before Louth shifted the momentum with a torrent of points from Jim McEnaney, Andy McDonnell, Ciarán Downey, William Woods, Tommy Durnin and outstanding substitute Ryan Burns (3) to eye up the Dubs in a Portlaoise showdown at the end of May.
Louth scorers: James Califf 0-5 (0-2f), Sam Burns 0-4 (0-1 ’45), Sam Mulroy (0-3f), Declan Byrne 0-3 each, Andy McDonnell 0-2, Conal McKeever, Jim McEnaney, Ciarán Downey, William Woods, Tommy Durnin 0-1 each.
Wexford scorers: Jonathan Bealin 0-7 (0-4f), Kevin O’Grady 1-0 (penalty), Ben Brosnan 0-3, Glen Malone 0-2, Conor Devitt, Martin O’Connor 0-1 each.
1. Matt Doyle (Glynn Barntown)
2. Michael Furlong (Adamstown)
3. Martin O’Connor (HWH Bunclody)
4. Conor Carty (Castletown)
5. Glen Malone (Shelmaliers)
6. Brian Malone (Shelmaliers)
7. Eoin Porter (Rathgarogue Cushinstown)
8. Daithí Waters (St Martin’s)
9. Niall Hughes (Kilanerin)
of the team
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12. Conor Devitt (Kilanerin)
11. Barry O’Connor (St Martin’s)
10. Eoghan Nolan (Shelmaliers)
13. Kevin O’Grady (St James’)
14. Ben Brosnan (Castletown)
15. Jonathan Bealin (Castletown)
17. Gavin Sheehan (Gusserane) for Carty (8, black-card)
22. Tiarnan Rossiter (St Mary’s Rosslare) for Hughes (40)
26. Robert Frayne (Duffry Rovers) for Nolan (63)
24. John Tubritt (Fethard) for Devitt (67)
18. James Cash (Shelmaliers) for Porter (68)
23. David Shannon (Volunteers) for Waters (black-card, 70+3).
1. Fergal Sheeky (Eire Og)
2. Fergal Donohoe (Newtown Blues)
3. Emmet Carolan (Newtown Blues)
4. James Craven (Geraldines)
5. Anthony Williams (Dreadnots)
6. Bevan Duffy (St Fechins)
7. John Clutterbuck (Naomh Mairtín)
8. Tommy Durnin (Na Hiartharaigh)
9. James Califf (Dreadnots)
10. Ciarán Downey (Newtown Blues)
11. Jim McEneaney (Geraldines)
12. Conal McKeever (Clan na Gael)
13. Andy McDonnell (Newtown Blues)
14. Sam Mulroy (Naomh Mairtín)
15. Declan Byrne (St Mochtas)
17. Dan Corcoran (Geraldines) for Williams (temp., 5)
19. Conor Early (Oliver Plunkett’s) for Califf (50)
21. Eoghan Duffy (St Fechins) for Clutterbuck (56)
23. Ryan Burns (Hunterstown Rovers) for Mulroy (56)
20. Ronan Holcroft (St Fechins) for McEnaney (62)
17. Dan Corcoran (Geraldines) for Donohoe (63)
24. William Woods (St Finbar’s) for Byrne (67).
Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary).
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