Delight for Davy Fitz as Wexford fight back from seven points down to beat Galway in Salthill
GALWAY 3-13 WEXFORD 1-21
Cheered on by their vocal travelling army of Davy Fitz disciples, Wexford staged their second remarkable comeback in a week to register a thrilling victory over Galway at Pearse Stadium.
Today's recovery was even more impressive than last week's win over Limerick, though, and it leaves Davy Fitzgerald's upwardly-mobile Model county firmly in the box seat for promotion from Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League.
Galway led by seven points at one stage late in the first half, and then went six up in the 53rd minute when Joe Canning buried a penalty with his very first touch.
Canning's unstoppable torpedo came after Jason Flynn was unceremoniously fouled inside the large parallelogram. The 28-year-old talisman hadn't played for six months, since surgery for a serious hamstring injury dating back to last August's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tipperary ... but his comeback strike left the wind-backed 1/3 favourites 3-12 to 0-15 ahead.
Yet, incredibly, they only managed one more point – a monster free from 'keeper Colm Callanan – whereas Wexford riposted with 1-6 in the final quarter.
Their comeback was facilitated by their own penalty – a debatable foul on Lee Chin – with Wexford netminder Mark Fanning extracting maximum reward with a low finish in the 57th minute.
That cut the deficit to two and, after Callanan's free, they rattled off the last five points.
Conor McDonald's towering effort from play drew them level in the 70th minute, and the same player added two injury-time frees to seal a two-point triumph.
Playing with the elements, Wexford brought plenty of competitive zeal to this crucial encounter and recovered from the concession of two early Galway scores (via Conor Cooney and Conor Whelan) to lead by 0-5 to 0-3 after 12 minutes.
But then Galway assumed command with an unanswered 1-2. Conor Cooney was the orchestrator of their first goal, in the 16th minute, with a teasing over the top-the-top pass up the right wing. His namesake, Joseph Cooney, and Wexford 'keeper Mark Fanning both sprinted for the ball; the Galway forward got their first, marginally, to flick it past Fanning to the net.
Their second goal arrived on the half-hour mark and carried the look of a killer score, stretching Galway's lead to six.
This time Joseph of the Cooneys was the architect, bursting into space up the left flank and then releasing Johnny Coen. The midfielder took possession in his stride and his angled finish gave Fanning no chance.
Game over? More like game on, as Wexford rediscovered their mojo with a shell-burst of five points before the break, kickstarted by a monster free from Lee Chin.
The half-time whistle sounded with Galway 2-7 to 0-11 clear but, incongruously, with every Wexford half-back and all six of their forwards having pointed from play.
The final result – and the manner of Galway's fadeout – is sure to worry manager Micheál Donoghue whereas his counterpart was exultant at the full-time whistle and besieged by autograph hunters long after the home crowd had spilled away.
SCORERS - Wexford: C McDonald 0-7 (5f), L Chin (2f), P Morris 0-3, M Fanning 1-0 pen, A Nolan 0-2, S Donohue, M O'Hanlon, D O'Keeffe, D Redmond, B Carton, P Doran 0-1 each. Galway: J Flynn 0-5 (2f, 1 '65'), J Cooney 1-1, J Coen, J Canning (1-0 pen) 1-0 each, C Cooney 0-3, C Whelan, David Burke, B Molloy, C Callanan (f) 0-1 each.
WEXFORD: M Fanning; E Moore, L Ryan, J Breen; S Donohue, M O'Hanlon, D O'Keeffe; S Murphy, J O'Connor; A Nolan, D Redmond, B Carton; C McDonald, L Chin, P Morris. Subs: H Kehoe for O'Connor (42), P Doran for Redmond (51), A Maddock for Carton (55), R Kehoe for Moore (60), D Dunne for Nolan (inj 62).
GALWAY: C Callanan; M Donoghue, J Hanbury, Daithí Burke; G McInerney, A Tuohy, A Harte; J Coen, D Burke; J Flynn, D Glennon, C Whelan; B Molloy, J Cooney, C Cooney. Subs: J Canning for Molloy (51), R Burke for McInerney (55), N Burke for Glennon (71).
REF: C McAllister (Cork).