Leinster Senior Football Championship First Round
Wexford 1-15 Offaly 1-12
By Ronan Fagan at Chadwicks Wexford Park (from www.gaa.ie website)
Wexford are bringing provincial kings Dublin back to Chadwicks Wexford Park next weekend after Ben Brosnan inspired a rousing fight-back at the sun-kissed venue on Sunday to rock Offaly in their Leinster SFC first round showdown.
John Maughan’s midlanders were threatening to steal a march after sub Lee Parson pounced for a 39th minute goal (1-7 to 0-6).
But Brosnan then led a Wexford revival when accounting for 1-5 of his overall 1-8 tally in a decisive spell crowned with his 54th minute goal as Shane Roche’s charges stormed back.
Offaly were down considerable attacking power as injury deprived them of the McNamee cousins, Niall and Ruairí, together with Jack Bryant, the star of last year’s All-Ireland Under-20 glory.
Wexford were determined to capitalise and shared the opening four points inside seven minutes, as a Wexford brace from Brosnan were matched by Offaly ‘keeper Paddy Dunican (free) and defender Colm Boyle.
The visitors hit the front for the first time after twelve minutes when Mark Abbott arrowed over a superb angled finish, and Johnny Murphy (free) doubled the margin (0-4 to 0-2).
Wexford competed strongly and Eoghan Nolan pegged back a mark before Offaly were thankful for a cracking intervention by corner-back Declan Hogan just as Mark Rossiter aimed for the Faithful net in the 20th minute.
Wexford’s goal came under serious threat after a subsequent exchange of points, Anton Sullivan cushioning a long delivery before Dylan Hyland’s attempt was blocked and the rebound was booted wide by Bernard Allen.
Ben Brosnan’s third personal score balanced the books on 33 minutes, but Billy Carroll rounded off a counter-attack in stoppage time to leave Offaly shading matters at half-time (0-6 to 0-5).
Offaly struck the first real blow after 39 minutes when, following an exchange of pointed frees, sub Pearson slotted a low finish to the net after Johnny Moloney had meandered through a ball-watching defence (1-7 to 0-6).
Wexford responded affirmatively as Brosnan slotted five scores (three frees) and captain Martin O’Connor also contributed to transform matters by 0-12 to 1-7 before pouncing for a 54th minute goal – midfielder Liam Coleman doing much of the heavy work before Brosnan bagged an angled finish.
Páraic Hughes made it a six point game before Offaly rallied to within 1-13 to 1-11 after 67 minutes through Dylan Hyland (free), Dunican (free), Bill Carroll and Niall Darby (free).
But Wexford reasserted with points from ‘keeper Darragh Brooks and sub Tom Byrne before overcoming the dismissal of Kevin O’Grady to a second yellow card as they begin to plan for the return of the Dubs next weekend.
Scorers for Wexford: Ben Brosnan 1-8 (0-4 frees), Eoghan Nolan (mark), Glen Malone, Kevin O’Grady (free), Martin O’Connor, Páraic Hughes, Darragh Brooks (free), Tom Byrne 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: Paddy Dunican 0-3 (frees), Lee Pearson 1-0, Bill Carroll 0-2, Colm Doyle, Mark Abbott, Johnny Moloney (free), Bernard Allen (free), Dylan Hyland (free), Niall Darby (free), Joseph O’Connor 0-1 each.
Wexford: Darragh Brooks; Liam O’Connor, Eoin Porter, Martin O’Connor; Páraic Hughes, Glen Malone, Dylan Furlong; Niall Hughes, Liam Coleman; Alan Tobin, Donal Shanley, Kevin O’Grady; Ben Brosnan, Eoghan Nolan, Mark Rossiter.
Subs: Tom Byrne for Rossiter (61), Robbie Brooks for Nolan (61), Dean O’Toole for Shanley (68), Seán Ryan for Tobin (70+3).
Offaly: Paddy Dunican; Declan Hogan, James Lalor, Kieran Dolan; Colm Doyle, David Dempsey, Niall Darby; Jordan Hayes, Bill Carroll; Mark Abbott, Johnny Moloney, Dylan Hyland; Bernard Allen, Anton Sullivan, Cathal Flynn.
Subs: Lee Pearson for Doyle, inj. (28), Carl Stewart for Allan (53), Joseph O’Connor for Flynn (54), Cian Donohoe for Hyland (64), Conor McNamee for Abbott (72).
Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Tipperary).