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Wexford 2-16 Offaly 1-12 Leinster U-21 HC Semi-Final

Brian Lowry

Published 25/06/2015 | 02:30

Man of the match Kevin Foley leaves Offaly's Conor Doughan in his tracks
Man of the match Kevin Foley leaves Offaly's Conor Doughan in his tracks
Wexford’s Conor McDonald in action against Cillian Kiely of Offaly in their Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 Hurling semi-final
Wexford's Jack O'Connor battles for possession with Offaly's Joe Maher
Matthew Maloney is closed down by Wexford's Conor Devitt
Offaly's Johnny O'Toole Greene is caught by Wexford's Jack O'Connor

Wexford Under-21s are the Barcelona of hurling. Kevin Foley may have been the man of the hour in Tullamore last night as he powered Wexford into the Leinster U-21 final with victory over Offaly, but it's their second goal that is the main talking point.

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The game was still up for grabs with eight minutes remaining when a super team move, starting way back in the full-back line, was finished to the net by Cathal Dunbar after the deftest of flicks from Conor McDonald had set him clear on goal.

Offaly led at the break by a point but Wexford were a different animal in the second half, with Conor McDonald’s well taken goal on 39 minutes sucking the life out of Offaly.

Foley landed seven points from play and was the star of the show as JJ Doyle’s men kept their three-in-a-row quest on track.

Offaly were the better side in the opening 30 minutes, with senior star Emmet Nolan leading the charge, but their challenge faded as the second half wore on.

Andrew Kenny was immense for Wexford in the full-back line and their second-half display was a big improvement on a lacklustre first-half effort.

Offaly had no answer to the visitors after the interval, with substitute Cathal Dunbar helping himself to 1-1.

Wexford were wasteful at times and will have to tighten up on that ahead of the final but once McDonald found the net on 39 minutes, they always looked the likely winners.

The opening exchanges saw both sides enjoy some neat passages of play but the home side looked the more intent on making an impact on the game.

After a point each inside the opening five minutes, Offaly built up a head of stream, and a brace of points from Nolan and a free from Dylan Murray left them 0-3 to 0-1 ahead.

Foley was the stand out player in the Wexford attack in the opening half and he kept them ticking over but with Nolan sending over two fine points and captain Conor Doughan on target from a long-range free, Offaly led 0-7 to 0-4 with five minutes left in the half.

Both sides missed gilt-edged goal chances in the opening half with Kevin O’Connor making a fine save to deny Foley on 24 minutes.

Nolan had almost flicked the sliotar to the net for the home side earlier in the half.

Cillian Kiely had the measure of senior star Conor McDonald but the Wexford ace did land two placed balls as Wexford ensured they were always on the tails of the home side.

Cathal Mahon and Foley traded scores before the break as the hosts went in 0-8 to 0-7 up at the break.

Wexford meant business after the break. They took a 0-10 to 0-8 lead with Foley landing a brace but the score of the game arrived nine minutes into the second half when Peter Sutton found McDonald in space and the full-forward found the back of the Offaly net.

By now, Foley was rampant and with Offaly reduced to the odd Murray free, Wexford took command of the game and led 1-13 to 0-11 after 45 minutes.

The game was put to bed with eight minutes remaining when a super team move, started way back in the full-back line, was finished to the net by Dunbar after the deftest of flicks from McDonald had set him clear on goal.

Kiely saw red for Offaly late on for his second yellow card but the game was well over before that.

Matthew Maloney grabbed a late goal for the home side but their brave effort fell short as a Foley-inspired Wexford move on to a Leinster final with Kilkenny.

Scorers – Wexford; K Foley 0-7, C McDonald 1-5 (0- 2fs, 0-2 ’65’s), C Dunbar 1-1, T French 0-2, J O’Connor 0-1. Offaly: D Murray 0-5 (4fs, 1 ‘65), E Nolan 0-4, M Maloney 1-0, C Doughan (f), C Mahon, S Guinan 0-1 each.

Wexford – O Cleary, S Donohoe, L Ryan, E Conroy; J White, P Foley, J O’Connor; C Devitt, G Bailey; A Kenny, K Foley, J Cash; S Murphy, C McDonald, P Sutton. Reps: C Dunbar for Donohoe (25), S Kelly for Murphy (37), T French for P Sutton (46), S Kenny for Cash (54).

Offaly – K O’Connor; D Corbett, C Kiely, P Rigney; G Crowe, C Doughan (Capt.), D Doughan; C Mahon, P Guinan; M Maloney, J O’Toole Greene, E Nolan; A Cleary, J Maher, D Murray. Reps: S Guinan for Maher (h-t), A Connolly for O’Toole-Greene (45), C Molloy for Mahon (45), P Kinsella (for Cleary (53).

Ref – P Burke (Kilkenny)

Irish Independent

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