Wexford’s O’Byrne Cup campaign got underway this afternoon as the Senior Footballers travelled to O’Connor Park to take on Offaly…
But unfortunately for the few committed travelling Wexford supporters, they witnessed a worrying and dismal display from Paul McLoughlin’s charges. It’s hard to take any positives from that game today and with a game against the reigning All-Ireland Football champions Dublin to be played on Tuesday (Jan 2nd), it’s likely that the beginning of the footballer’s season will go from bad to worse.
From the offset, Wexford seemed out of place in the game, and Offaly’s three quick-fire goals […Jordan Hayes (x2), Cian Johnson] within the first fifteen minutes didn’t help the Model County’s cause.
To their credit, Wexford tried to place a foothold in a game, but it was a game that continued to drift away from them. Despite two points from Castletown’s Donnacha Holmes and a point each by Glen Malone, Donal Shanley (free) and Cathal Devereux, the experimental and youthful Wexford side failed to claw their way back into the game. At half-time, a comeback in cold conditions in Offaly seemed unlikely for the Model men, going in at the break nine points down on a scoreline of 3-05 to 0-05. A 22-minute drought of no scores from the Model County typified their first-half display, as they struggled to retain possession and create scoreable chances.
Wexford’s new manager Paul McLoughlin made two immediate substitutions at half-time, and continued to make great use of the unlimited substitutes rule allowed in this competition- but despite making ten substitutions throughout the game, not one of those substitutions managed to raise a white or green flag during a time when it was most badly needed.
Goal chances were few for both sides in the second-half, but Offaly continued to raise white flags in quick succession. Second half-points from Cian Johnson and a string of points by Sean Doyle kept McLoughlin’s charges at arm’s length as the clock ticked down and a Wexford result neared an impossibility. Wexford scored just four points in the second half, two of them frees by Dónal Shanley and the other two from Castletown’s Conor Carty and Gusserane’s Mark Rossiter.
Despite the poor display, it’s important to note that the season has only just begun – and Paul McLoughlin is clearly still trying to find his best fifteen. In today’s game, he gave debuts to an array of young and upcoming prospects. While a victory against Dublin on Tuesday seems unlikely, supporters will certainly be looking for some exciting performances as the Dubs are welcomed to Enniscorthy as the reconstruction of Wexford football begins.
Full time: Offaly 3-16 – 0-09 Wexford
OFFALY: P Duncan; D Brady, J Lalor, D Hogan; D Dempsey, S Pender, C Donohue; C Dunne, S Nally; J Hayes (2-0), A Sullivan, M Brazil; B Allen (0-6, 0-2f), C Johnson (1-3), S Doyle (0-4, 0-2f).
Subs: J O’Connor (0-1) for Brazil (HT), B O’Dea (0-1) for Hayes (HT), B Rohan for Duncan (44), G Spollen for Nally (HT), Brazil for Sullivan (52), S Tierney (0-1) for Johnson (52), J Egan for Brady (56), Hayes for Donohue (58).
WEXFORD: M Doyle; M O’Connor, M O’Neill, J Rossiter; M Furlong, C Carty (0-1), G Malone (0-1); S Byrne, N Doyle; D Holmes (0-2), D Shanley (0-3f), J Stafford; C Devereux (0-1), M Rossiter (0-1), C McCabe.
Subs: P Curtis for Stafford (HT), D Lyons for Byrne (HT), R Frayne for Holmes (44), G Sheehan for O’Connor (44), C Swaine for M Doyle (49), A Nolan for O’Neill (49), B O’Connor for Rossiter (52), D Pepper for Devereux (59), Q Saunders for Malone (62), D Furlong for Shanley (62).
Referee: N Ward (Westmeath).
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