Wexford blow away Offaly to end their 42-year jinx
Wexford 2-15 Offaly0-12
MET Eireann issued a Code Yellow weather warning for Leinster yesterday and the Yellowbellies of Wexford certainly left Offaly's hurlers in a deep depression at Tullamore.
Liam Dunne's men became the first Wexford team to record an away league victory in Offaly since 1973.
Dunne played against the Faithful County many times in Birr and Tullamore over the years and came away with nothing to show for his efforts.
This time, it was different. Not perfect by any means, but victory was all that counted on a heavy, rain-soaked pitch that cut up, making the going very heavy for the players.
Strong winds blasted downfield, putting a premium on the first half, particularly for Offaly.
Buoyed up by a strong performance in their opening fixture against Laois, Offaly had good reason to be confident against Wexford.
Three key factors influenced the mood change from pre-game hope into post-match despair.
The first was Jack Guiney's 20th-minute goal which jumped the visitors into a lead - 1-5 to 0-4 - when the teams had been fairly evenly matched up to then.
The second was Offaly's failure to make better use of the wind advantage in that opening 35 minutes, which ended at 1-8 to 0-7 in Wexford's favour.
And the third was a red mist descending on Cillian Kiley of Kilcormac-Killoughey which resulted in a 38th-minute dismissal for a clash with Wexford's Kevin Foley.
Reduced to 14 men for all but three minutes of the second half, Offaly battled gamely.
Wexford also worked hard, and made bundles of scoring chances, most of which they squandered. A second-half wide count of 14, including five in a row between the 60th and 62nd minute could have proved fatal against 15 men.
Podge Doran cracked home a fine second goal in the 61st minute to put an added lustre on the scoreline.
As it was, Dunne was happy enough. Wexford have Limerick at home in two weeks' time, and full points from the opening two fixtures represents a bright start to the campaign.
"You'd have to be happy any time you come away from Tullamore with a nine-point victory," he said.
"We haven't come away from Tullamore or Birr with a victory too often in the past so we're pleased.
"We've a lot of things to work on. To be fair, Offaly were down to 14 men in the second half, and we had a strong breeze as well, but I think the winning of the game was in the first half.
"Jack's goal was probably the winning of the game for us."
The vital score came when Guiney claimed possession about 20 metres out from goal and muscled his way clear to fire the sliotar into the net.
It could have been worse, as Offaly keeper James Dempsey had to react well to save a shot by Ian Byrne after 24 minutes. Another goal then would have seriously dented Offaly's hopes, but they ended the half just four points adrift.
Their cause was soon undermined by Kiely's straight red card just three minutes into the second half.
Offaly manager Brian Whelehan felt the real impact of that sending-off showed later in the match.
"It definitely was a big factor coming into the last seven or eight minutes," he said.
"We had a lot of tired bodies out on the field trying to make up ground.
"We still remained very positive with regard to the type of game we wanted to play but when we went down to 14 men, it was going to be very tough.
"I have to commend the lads for the way they kept hurling and kept fighting.
" We had a few chances to bring it back to one or two points at one stage and we didn't take them but having said that, Wexford had a lot of wides in the second half."
Wexford got a good return of scores from seven players.
Guiney led the way with 1-3, the points all coming from frees.
Liam Og McGovern had to battle hard and deserved each of his five points from play, and David Redmond contributed 0-4.
It's no secret that Shane Dooley remains Offaly's key scorer, and his haul of 0-8, only one from play, was highly creditable given the wind factor.
Just two other players got on the scoresheet for Offaly - Joe Bergin (0-3) and Shane Kinsella.
It's homework and reflection time now for both Dunne and Whelehan.
"We have to plan and regroup for Waterford now in two weeks. That will be a big game for us," said Whelehan.
Wexford had a good all-round set of solid performances, particularly in the first half but throughout the game Redmond did plenty of hard graft around and through the middle, and scored three points as well.
The Slaneysiders defence, ably anchored by Matthew O'Hanlon and Lee Chin, did a very sound job of restricting Offaly's chances.
At the other end, Offaly goalkeeper Dempsey made three good saves and could not be faulted for either of the goals.
Colin Egan, Sean Ryan and Bergin also battled hard throughout.
Man of the Match: David Redmond (Wexford)
Scorers - Wexford: J Guiney 1-3 (0-3fs), L Og McGovern 0-5, D Redmond 0-4, P Doran 1-0, D Waters, K Foley, I Byrne 0-1 each. Offaly: S Dooley 0-8 (6fs, 1 '65'), J Bergin 0-3, S Kinsella 0-1.
Wexford - M Fanning 7; L Ryan 7, M O'Hanlon 7, C Kenny 7; P Foley 7, L Chin 7 E Moore 7; D Redmond 8, E Martin 7; I Byrne, 7. D Waters 7, D O'Keeffe 7; P Morris (inj 10 mins), J Guiney 7. L Og McGovern 7. Subs: K Foley 7 for P Morris (10,inj); H Kehoe 7 for E Martin (38); P Doran 7 for D Waters (38); J Kelly 6 for D O'Keeffe (60); S Tomkins for I Byrne (65)
Offaly - J Dempsey 7; N Wynne 7, D Shortt 7, S Egan 7; E Nolan 7, C Egan 7, D Mooney 7; P Camon 7, S Ryan 7, J Bergin 7, S Kinsella 6, D Currams 6, S Dooley 8, P Murphy 7, S Quirke 6. Subs: C Kiely 5 for S Quirke (26); S Cleary 6 for P Murphy (43); G Mann 6 for S Kinsella (59); C Mulrooney for S Ryan (68).
Ref - F Horgan(Tipperary)