Second U-20 loss
Carlow 2-15 Wexford 2-9
The Wexford Under-20 footballers were brought back down to earth following their stroll in the Gold Coast sun against Waterford when they succumbed to a superior Carlow side by six points in their Andrew Corden Cup encounter in Netwatch Cullen Park on Wednesday.
The home side were fired up for their first fixture in this new competition, determined to do well as it honours the memory of a highly-regarded former county Senior team captain.
They were presented with their gear beforehand at the adjoining O'Hanrahan's grounds in Deerpark, the home club of the late Corden, by club Chairman Mark Carpenter, who was also one of his team-mates on a decent Carlow team in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
And they went on to produce a polished onfield display, never looking back after 1-2 without reply in two fruitful minutes at the end of the opening half left them with an interval lead of 1-9 to 0-6.
Indeed, Wexford trailed by 2-14 to 0-8 with under nine minutes to go, but an unanswered 2-1 made the scoreline more respectable.
They shaved the crossbar too in the course of a bright finish, but Carlow had the last word when outstanding corner-forward Andrew Kehoe kicked a glorious point in added time to bring his personal tally from play to an impressive 1-5.
Some of the issues that had surfaced in the heavy opening round loss to Laois six days earlier re-surfaced here, notably communication difficulties from their own kick-outs, a lack of pace among certain defenders, and an over-reliance on Jamie Myler in attack.
Carlow's entire first-half tally of 1-9 came from play, in contrast to a mere 0-2 for the visitors.
Jamie Myler kicked those scores in the 13th and 26th minutes along with a trio of frees, with Michael Molloy the only other marksman from a placed ball.
Molloy's early point had given Wexford the lead for the one and only time, although they did draw level on 0-5 each early in the second quarter before Andrew Kehoe and Jamie Lunney picked off points for the opposition.
Kehoe pulled a goal chance left and wide before Darragh Brooks was kept on his toes with a fine save to deny Lunney, with Myler pulling a point back from a Dean Doyle pass before a major swing in the space of 50 seconds.
Seán Nolan had the ball in the Carlow net from a Liam Coleman assist, but it was correctly ruled out as he hopped it twice in the build-up.
Carlow counter-attacked, with Diarmuid Ruth given far too much leeway to run at the heart of the defence before off-loading to Andrew Kehoe whose shot went under Brooks and into the net (1-7 to 0-6).
Wing-back Griffin Kennedy and midfielder Jamie McCabe added to the lead as Wexford struggled to deal with runners from deep, although they were unfortunate not to pull back a goal in added time when Seán Nolan handpassed to Dylan McVeigh whose shot was well saved by the familiar figure of Kelan Gaffney, who made 15 league appearances between the sticks for Wexford F.C. in 2018.
Carlow's dominance grew on the re-start, with Wexford going on a barren period lasting nearly 13 minutes between their seventh and eighth points from Myler (free) and Dean Doyle respectively.
In between, Gaffney used a foot to keep out a Seán Nolan drive, and Wexford gave away a soft second goal near the end of the third quarter.
Jamie Lunney got his hand to a short kick-out ahead of its intended target, Ben Maddock, and it led to a goal for influential substitute Colin Byrne who had pointed earlier with his first touch after another sloppy re-start.
The pointed free beforehand had also arisen from a similar situation, and it's probably the most pressing thing mentors Brendan Kehoe, Eric Bradley, Paud Moriarty and Paul Gannon need to work on.
Byrne later hit the crossbar for Carlow before Andrew Kehoe's effort from the rebound was saved, and this prompted Wexford into a mini-revival.
Indeed, they goaled twice in just 36 seconds, the first a very good solo effort from Jamie Myler after a pass over the top by substitute Philip Dempsey, to be followed immediately by another from Dylan McVeigh after a one-two with Michael Kinsella (2-14 to 2-8).
A foul on Kinsella then led to a pointed Michael Molloy free, but Wexford brought their wides tally to ten with two misses before Kelan Gaffney turned a Seán Nolan goal attempt on to the crossbar and out for a fruitless '45.
Qualification for the knockout stages of the league is now highly unlikely after two losses in a five-team group, but Wexford still have a home clash in the last round on June 15 against Tipperary in Bellefield prior to the Leinster championship game against Wicklow at the same venue eight days later.
Wexford: Darragh Brooks (Castletown); Killian Pierce (Castletown), Ben Maddock (St. Martin's), Eoghan Herlihy (Oylegate-Glenbrien); Nathan O'Connor (Starlights), Gavin Sheehan (Gusserane, capt.), Aaron Breen (Glynn-Barntown); Liam Coleman (Castletown), Seán Forde (Kilanerin); Seán Nolan (Horeswood), Adam Hogan (HWH-Bunclody), Dylan McVeigh (Starlights, 1-0); Jamie Myler (Horeswood, 1-6, 0-4 frees), Dean Doyle (Ballyhogue, 0-1), Michael Molloy (Kilanerin, 0-2 frees). Subs. - Cathal Kirwan (Sarsfields) for Herlihy (HT), Philip Dempsey (St. Martin's) for Breen (HT), Byron Byrne (HWH-Bunclody) for Hogan (HT), Michael Kinsella (Marshalstown-Castledockrell) for Forde (HT), Liam O'Connor (St. Mary's, Rosslare) for Coleman, black card (47), Seán Bookey (Kilrush) for O'Connor (55).
Carlow: Kelan Gaffney; Senan Molloy, Barry Hickey, Jonah Dunne; Griffin Kennedy (0-1), Mikey Bambrick (0-1), Tom Pollard; Jamie McCabe (0-1), Ben Dorgan; Jamie Lunney (0-1), Diarmuid Ruth (0-1), Luke Connolly; Andrew Kehoe (1-6, 0-1 free), Cian Doyle (capt., 0-3), Aidan Lillis. Subs. - Colin Byrne (1-1) for Doyle (40), Gavin Healy for Lillis (44), Seán Deay for Connolly (49), Liam McGuill for Pollard (51), Conor Hickson for Molloy (52), Darren O'Keeffe for Ruth (55).
Referee: Seamus Mulhare (Laois).