Wexford Purple 1-14 Carlow 0-10
A Wexford Purple side drawn exclusively from the squad deployed for recent Leinster championship games against Kilkenny and Kildare respectively couldn't relax until the closing stages of Wednesday's Celtic Challenge Under-17 hurling opener against a hard-working Carlow crew in St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy.
A Seán Delaney goal in the last minute of normal time, from a close-range ground stroke, eventually broke the spirited resistance of the visitors who built up a head of steam in the third quarter and made the locals work very hard for their victory.
Wexford led by 0-9 to 0-3 after a rather pedestrian first-half, and Rhys Broaders widened the margin to seven inside 30 seconds of the re-start.
However, the home side then lost its way somewhat in a livelier second period, conceding five unanswered points in a ten-minute spell to free-taker Ciarán Kavanagh (three) and impressive midfielder Dan Sheehan (two).
It meant that Wexford only led by 0-10 to 0-8 entering the last quarter, with the momentum favouring Carlow.
However, the Slaneysiders showed their mettle with an improved finish to the game, ending a scoreless spell lasting 16 minutes when Seán Delaney marked his re-introduction from the bench with a point.
Kevin O'Donohoe then displayed neat control on his hurl before driving a shot inches over the bar, but Eoin Hosey left Carlow with a glimmer of hope when he pointed in the 58th minute (0-12 to 0-9).
The key scores followed from Delaney, as he split the posts from a tight angle on the right before showing good awareness and positional sense to latch on to a blocked shot close to goal and dispatch it first-time to the net.
Ciarán Kavanagh and Rhys Broaders swapped points late on to leave a rather flattering seven between them at the finish, although it was a good start nonetheless for the Purple squad who will be expected to beat their Gold counterparts with something to spare in Innovate Wexford Park tomorrow (Wednesday, 7.30 p.m.).
Wexford had led by 0-4 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter after points from Seán Delaney, Cathal Doyle, Rhys Broaders and a Delaney free.
Carlow's third and last point of the half came in the 18th minute, with Wexford missing a few good chances but still doing more than enough to lead 9-3 at the break thanks to Micheál O'Connor, Delaney (free) and Cathal Doyle (two, one free).
The game was notable for the presence of an all-Liam Mellows midfield pairing in Chris Callanan and Liam Coleman.
While open to correction, I would reckon this was a first for Wexford in any grade of hurling and a positive reflection on the work being done at under-age level by the Coolgreany club.
Wexford Purple: Ben Walsh (Geraldine O'Hanrahans); Patrick O'Hagan (Ferns St. Aidan's), Tommy Ryan (Gusserane), Cillian Gahan (Faythe Harriers); Peter Rowley (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Eoin Doyle (Craanford), Sam Audsley (St. Martin's); Chris Callanan (Liam Mellows), Liam Coleman (Liam Mellows); Rhys Broaders (St. Mary's, Rosslare, 0-3), Seán Delaney (Naomh Eanna, 1-5, 0-2 frees), Micheál O'Connor (Rathnure, 0-1); Kevin O'Donohoe (Gusserane, 0-1), Conor Nolan (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 0-1), Cathal Doyle (Taghmon-Camross, capt., 0-3, 1 free). Subs. - Ben Stafford (St. Martin's) for Gahan (25), David Pettit (Our Lady's Island/St. Fintan's) for Delaney (29), Diarmuid Kehoe (Geraldine O'Hanrahans) for O'Hagan (36), Seán O'Connor (Rathnure) for Broaders (39), Delaney for Nolan (46), Broaders for C. Doyle, inj. (48), also Seán Cooper (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy).
Carlow: Kevin Curran; Dean Tobin, Jack Ryan (capt.), Niall Hickey; Richie Whelan, Tadgh Daly, Eoin Kavanagh; Dan Sheehan (0-3, 1 free), Billy Molloy; Gavin Ruschitzko, Rory Joyce, Ciarán Kavanagh (0-5, 3 frees); Niall Whelan, Liam McGuill, James Smithers (0-1). Subs. - Eoin Hosey (0-1) for N. Whelan (12), Laserian Meaney for Joyce, inj. (16), Colm Malone for Ruschitzko (24), River Harman for McGuill (34), Joyce for Smithers (39), Oisín Ryan for Hickey (44), Seán Cummins for Molloy (51), Smithers for Joyce (54), Niall Canning for Meaney (54), Niall Whelan for R. Whelan (60).
Referee: Gearóid McGrath (St. James').