Wexford promotion 'rates right up there' for Fitzgerald
Wexford 1-17 Offaly 0-15
Davy Fitzgerald has struck again as Wexford were promoted back to Division 1A of the Allianz Hurling League despite a below-par performance in Tullamore.
Fitzgerald's men did it with a game to spare as the former Clare All-Ireland-winning manager hailed it as one of his best achievements to date while admitting that it wasn't an aspiration this year.
"It couldn't be, how could it be? If you are honest about it, how would you think that after Galway being in the All-Ireland semi-final last year and Limerick having beaten them every time they've met them in the last 12 years. Honestly, it was a massive ask. But I'm always a believer, I don't go out to lose any game but I think for them to get up - I tell you it rates right up there for me with what I have achieved, without a shadow of a doubt.
"Like, the county board told me if I could get them there in two or three years they'd be delighted, so that's a big massive achievement. I thought we were a small bit flat today, missed two or three goal chances that we need to put away. But listen, a win is a win."
Wexford, although not in flying form, always looked the likely winners and were given a massive fillip in the closing moments of the opening half when Conor McDonald struck for a superb goal that gave them a 1-7 to 0-8 half-time lead having played against the wind.
They couldn't really put Offaly away though and the home side dug in to remain on their heels all the way to the finish before a late flurry of scores gave the Wexford men their five-point cushion.
Mark Fanning certainly played a big part in the win with his outstanding penalty save from Shane Dooley 20 minutes from time proving crucial. If Dooley had despatched it, the game would have been level.
Fitzgerald was also in buoyant mood having defied the odds to get promoted.
"Everything was kind of against us - the main match was meant to be the last game (Galway v Limerick). They can have it now and do whatever they like, I don't care. Wexford are put out to play Galway and Limerick in the first two games and it was all meant to come down to Galway and Limerick in the last game so we are happy."
Meanwhile, Offaly manager Kevin Ryan was happy that he can see progress in his side.
"I know people wouldn't traditionally look at Laois as being as good as Galway but we felt that second half of the Laois game, and we spoke about it after, although it was a different calibre of opposition, when we were down to 13 men I reckon we saw something that night, that bit in them. They've worked extremely hard, they've trained very hard and I thought they performed better again last week and slightly better again today."
Scorers - Wexford: C McDonald 1-6 (4f), D O'Keefe, P Morris and A Nolan 0-2 each; J O'Connor, D Redmond, H Kehoe, L Chin and D Dunne 0-1 each. Offaly: S Dooley 0-10 (8f, 1 '65), S Cleary 0-3, O Kelly, S Quirke 0-1 each.
Wexford - M Fanning 8; S Donohoe 7, L Ryan 9, J Breen 8; D Reck 7, M O'Hanlon 7, D O'Keefe 8; J O'Connor 7, A Maddock 6; D Redmond 7, L Chin 7, S Murphy 7; C McDonald 8, H Kehoe 7, P Morris 6. Subs: A Nolan for P Morris (temp 10-13), A Nolan 7 for A Maddock (47), J Guiney 6 for P Morris (56), D Dunne 6 for J O'Connor (56).
Offaly - J Dempsey 7; P Rigney 7, M Cleary 6, P Delaney 6; D Morkan 6, D Shortt 7, S Gardiner 7; S Ryan 6, A Treacy 7; J Mulrooney 5, C Kiely 6, S Cleary 7; S Dooley 7, S Quirke 7, O Kelly 6. Subs: E Nolan for S Ryan (temp 25-30), D King 7 for P Delaney (inj 30), E Nolan 6 for J Mulrooney (h-t), T Carroll 6 for S Quirke (61), P Geraghty 6 for S Cleary (61).
Ref - C McAllister (Cork)