The Wexford Senior footballers performed the impressive feat of holding the opposition scoreless from play as the hard work in the early stages of Paul Galvin's tenure was rewarded with a comprehensive seven-point win over a very poor Carlow side in their second Allianz League Division 4 encounter before a small crowd in Chadwicks Wexford Park on Saturday.
The pressure attached to waiting for a first victory was lifted off the shoulders with some enterprising attacking too, as all bar two points of the home tally arrived from open play.
Galvin has expressed a desire for delivering quick ball to the forwards and utilising the foot pass at every opportunity, and that was music to the ears of the experienced Ben Brosnan and relative newcomer Mark Rossiter who were both in fine scoring form.
It wasn't an attractive spectacle on the whole by any means, but that was hardly the fault of the winners who were the only team with the desire to play direct, attacking football.
Carlow's failure to raise even one flag from open play tells its own story, with the only mitigating factor being the absence of the high-scoring Paul Broderick through suspension.
The Wexford mentors replaced goalkeeper Pa Doyle with the adventurous Ivan Meegan, with the debutant from Ferns St. Aidan's showing his penchant for some sorties upfield and also chipping in with a pointed free.
Jim Rossiter and Rory Heffernan also missed out from the loss to Antrim, with some positional shuffling required in order to accommodate Mark Rossiter and Seán Nolan up front.
Wexford had first use of the strong wind blowing towards the town end, and it took them a while to settle as Ben Brosnan and Eoghan Nolan posted wides, with the latter also dropping a shot short.
James Stafford finally opened their account from a Seán Nolan pass in the tenth minute, although it was only awarded after consultation as one umpire initially waved wide while the other raised the flag.
There was no doubt surrounding the second that followed quickly from Mark Rossiter after a Jonathan Bealin pass came off a Carlow defender's hand.
The visitors were making minimal progress into the strong wind, and they had to wait until late in the first quarter for their first kick at the posts when Diarmuid Walshe missed a free.
However, he did get them off the mark in the 19th minute after a borderline call against the impressive Ronan Devereux, but the Wexford response was emphatic.
Ivan Meegan's long kick-out down the middle broke for Seán Nolan, and the move that followed also featured James Stafford and Niall Hughes before Ben Brosnan kicked with real venom from the right of the posts into the far corner of the net for a 1-2 to 0-1 lead.
A poor kick-out that followed led to a foul on Jonathan Bealin, remarkably one of just two frees awarded to Wexford before the break in comparison to a whopping 18 for their rivals.
Brosnan nailed the placed ball via the ground from 40 metres, and momentum and belief was building within the home ranks.
Although Seán Nolan kicked a wide, Ronan Devereux latched on to the re-start and fed James Stafford who took the best option by teeing up the on-form Brosnan to create a six-point gap.
Every score was going to be vital with such a strong wind to contend with in the second period, and Wexford were determined to make hay as Glen Malone pointed following a one-two with the influential Niall Hughes.
The second goal gave them a nice cushion, and it arrived at the end of a sweeping movement in the 32nd minute.
Hughes found Conor Carty whose lightning burst split the defence in two. And from that point on it was a Castletown training ground move, as the defender unselfishly found Brosnan whose handpass to the right post was gratefully palmed to the net by Jonathan Bealin (2-5 to 0-1).
A foul on D.C.U. Sigerson Cup medal winner Jordan Morrissey resulted in Diarmuid Walshe pulling back a point before Niall Hughes kicked the fifth Wexford wide from an overall figure of nine.
However, they ended the half on a high with a peach of a point, with patience the key word in a lengthy move that ended with Mark Rossiter firing over a beauty from tight to the right sideline under the stand (2-6 to 0-2).
Wexford still had 35-plus minutes of defending to take care of against the elements, and the only time when feelings of an imminent win seemed in doubt arrived when Carlow pulled back a quickfire 1-1 on the re-start.
Darragh Foley pointed a free before his second placed ball from the left wing was caught by Brendan Murphy who earned a penalty as he turned and tried to bear down on goal.
John Murphy tucked it under the body of Ivan Meegan in the 38th minute, leaving Wexford with a double scores lead still but clearly looking somewhat vulnerable.
Any concerns regarding their ability to settle were misplaced, though, as their eagerness to close down any opponent in possession, and their generally good discipline in doing so, kept Carlow firmly on the back foot.
Indeed, a scoreless period lasting 19 minutes followed before another Foley free reduced the gap to 2-6 to 1-4 early in the closing quarter, with captain Brian Malone - on a yellow card from the first-half - somewhat lucky that his frontal tackle on Jordan Morrissey didn't result in a second booking.
In that period, Jonathan Bealin, Mark Rossiter and Eoghan Nolan kicked wides, while overlapping full-back Gavin Sheehan had a shot on goal blocked after good approach work from Niall Hughes, Rossiter and Bealin.
His best option at the time was to pop the ball to his right for the unmarked Brosnan, and it was a lucky escape for a Carlow side who had earlier seen a Seán Murphy kick correctly ruled wide after one umpire initially flagged for a point.
One memorable feature of the second-half was the catching ability of Niall Hughes from kick-outs, with the midfielder soaring high to claim three marks from Ivan Meegan re-starts.
Having waited nearly 20 minutes to score, Carlow kicked a second point in the space of 95 seconds from a Diarmuid Walshe free, and there was still ample time for them to eat further into Wexford's lead of 2-6 to 1-5.
The leaders produced an excellent finish, though, starting when Ivan Meegan was called up to kick a left-footed free after a foul on Jonathan Bealin just to the right of the 'D' in the 62nd minute.
Meegan then ventured as far as midfield on a run before picking out substitute Michael Molloy, with Ronan Devereux receiving the ball next and feeding Ben Brosnan for a superbly-worked point.
A slightly more tricky free was sent wide by Meegan before Carlow kicked what proved to be their last point from another Diarmuid Walshe strike in the 69th minute.
Their Louth-born goalkeeper, Robert Sansom, had vacated his goal at this stage and was regularly seen in the opposing half, but it seemed to be a risky diversionary tactic only given that he didn't feature actively in the play.
Michael Molloy fed Mark Rossiter for his third point to make it 2-9 to 1-6, and the Kilanerin youngster almost availed of Sansom's absence from a long pass by clubmate Niall Hughes, only for a defender's tackle preventing him from kicking into a gaping net.
The final score started from a third mark for Hughes, and fittingly ended with the excellent Ben Brosnan bringing his personal haul to 1-3 from play.
Seven additional minutes were played, with Ivan Meegan doing well at one stage to palm a teasing ball away from under the crossbar given the heavy traffic in front of him.
The win confirmed the view taken from Glenavy one week earlier that there was promise evident in spite of the defeat.
At this stage it looks like the games at home to Sligo and away to Limerick, on February 29 and March 15 respectively, will be of critical importance in determining the promotion shake-up.
That, of course, depends on Wexford keeping this momentum going away to Waterford in Fraher Field, Dungarvan, this Saturday at 7 p.m., where another win will be essential.
The success against Carlow was crucial for morale among the squad, as seven straight losses across all competitions had followed since this developing side last secured a victory in the league at home to Limerick on March 16 last year.
Wexford: Ivan Meegan (0-1 free); Martin O'Connor, Gavin Sheehan, Conor Carty; Ronan Devereux, Brian Malone (capt.), Glen Malone (0-1); Eoghan Nolan, Niall Hughes; Tom Byrne, Jonathan Bealin (1-0), James Stafford (0-1); Seán Nolan, Ben Brosnan (1-4, 0-1 free), Mark Rossiter (0-3). Subs. - Michael Molloy for S. Nolan (49), Conor Devitt for Byrne (55), Jim Rossiter for M. Rossiter (70), Ríoghan Crosbie for Stafford (70+5), Shane Doyle for Carty (70+6), also Pa Doyle, Oisín Foley, Robbie Barron, Liam Coleman, John Dunne, Rory Heffernan.
Carlow: Robert Sansom; Mikey Bambrick, Niall Roche, Shane Redmond; Jordan Morrissey, Ray Walker, Conor Doyle; Seán Murphy, Eoghan Ruth; Diarmuid Walshe (0-4 frees), Darragh Foley (0-2 frees), John Murphy (1-0 pen.); Seán Gannon (capt.), Brendan Murphy, Darragh O'Brien. Subs. - Josh Moore for Bambrick (47), Liam Roberts for Doyle (47), Simon Doyle for J. Murphy (56), Conor Crowley for Ruth (63), Ross Dunphy for O'Brien (70).
Referee: Seamus Mulhare (Laois).