Saturday 24 March 2018

Larkin's troops get off to a comfortable start

BRENDAN FURLONG in Fr. Murphy Park

Graham Staples of Wexford keeps tabs on his Carlow opponent during Saturday's clash.
Graham Staples of Wexford keeps tabs on his Carlow opponent during Saturday's clash.

WEXFORD FOOTBALL LEAGUE, the dominant force in this competition over recent seasons, continued their fine form with a comfortable fourgoal victory over a very mediocre Carlow League side in their opening F.A.I. Youths InterLeague game played on the excellent Shamrock Rovers pitch in Enniscorthy on Saturday last.

Having stung the Carlow boys with ten minutes of incessant pressure from the kick-off, it was no real surprise that the home side's dominance was set to continue for the remainder of the game. They were clearly the superior side and such was their composure and control of this game that their winning margin would have been far greater had they availed of all the chances that came their way.

With no Mick Wallace on the sideline for the first time in more than 15 years, the Wexford boys were under the control of a father and son team in Michael Larkin (manager) and Garreth as coach. They certainly have stamped their authority on this side as they played quality attacking football, with their clinical passing and pace up front seeing them create numerous chances.

For Carlow, back in the competition following an absence of several seasons, it was a disappointing display. Their back four was continually under pressure, while midfield struggled to make any impact, with the result that the front players did not have a single chance through the 90 minutes.

The home side opened impressively and should have taken the lead inside the first 90 seconds, but centre-forward Seán Ryan just failed to get a touch to a Peter O'Rourke cross with a gaping goal in front of him.

Continuing to apply almost incessant pressure, it came as no surprise when they eventually broke the deadlock after eleven minutes, with Stephen McGuire pulling a fine left-footed shot across 'keeper Daniel McMahon into the opposite corner of the net.

With the visitors confined to quick breakaways, they had to wait until the 31st minute for their first attempt on goal, with Liam Brennan's weakly-hit shot held by 'keeper Dylan Owens. The Wexford boys had begun well and they added to their lead seven minutes before the break when McGuire found the bottom left-hand corner of the net for his second goal, making it 2-0 at the break.

During the opening second-half exchanges, Carlow enjoyed their best spell but despite the efforts of Liam Brennan and Keith Curran they were unable to break down the home side's back four in which Dale Flynn and Neil Farrington were outstanding, with the result that home 'keeper Owens did not have one shot to save.

The Wexford boys blitzed Carlow through the final half-hour, adding two further goals, with the third arriving in the 65th minute as Brian Nolan showed neat control to lift the ball over his opposite number before drilling a fine shot to the top right-hand corner of the net.

Substitute Ross Riordan should have done better with a couple of chances before Mikey Rowe made it 4-0 after 70 minutes with a fine shot from the edge of the area.

So for Wexford it was an impressive start to the campaign, but for Carlow it was a disappointing return to the youths inter-league competition.