Tipperary 1-10, Wexford 1-9
Wexford football teams at all levels have been struggling to catch a break of any sort recently, and that frustrating trend continued in Bellefield on Saturday when the Under-20 side succumbed to two late Tipperary points in their final Andrew Corden Cup game.
They were out of contention for the inaugural title - won by Laois - beforehand after two losses from their three previous outings, but it would have been a positive to claim a win just one week before the knockout championship clash with Wicklow at the same venue.
And although Wexford didn't score for a staggering 29 minutes in the second-half, it still looked like they might snatch victory when they were awarded a late penalty after a footblock on Seán Forde.
They were trailing by 1-8 to 0-9 at that stage, but netminder Kuba Beben went to his right and Jamie Myler tucked the ball away low to his left to restore a lead the home side had lost for the first time in the 53rd minute.
That advantage only lasted 40 seconds though, because wind-aided Tipperary surged downfield and Kevin Grogan kicked the levelling point.
Eanna McBride and Seán Nolan went on to exchange wides, before the Premier county struck for the winner with the second-last kick of the game.
While Shane Doyle's initial effort came back off the left upright, he was in the right position to collect the break and steady himself before splitting the posts at the Bellefield Road end.
Wexford had welcomed Senior regular Eoin Porter for his first start in this competition, although his counterpart at that level, Gavin Sheehan, wasn't available.
Seán Nolan took over the captaincy in the absence of the Gusserane man, and he kicked the first two points in the seventh and twelfth minutes as his colleagues succeeded in getting one of their best marksmen on the ball around the 45-metre mark with the elements in his favour.
The game was notable for the amount of missed goal chances for both sides, starting in the fourth minute when Michael Kinsella picked out Adam Hogan who forced Kuba Beben into a good save.
A pull from Seán O'Connor went to the left of the posts at the other end before Jamie Myler soloed through but directed his shot to the right and wide.
And although Wexford went on to lead by 0-8 to 0-2 at half-time, the two teams missed a further opportunity apiece just before the interval.
Ríain Quigley hooked a shot narrowly off target for Tipperary, before Liam Coleman popped a handpass to Michael Kinsella who first-timed high and wide from close range.
Wexford hadn't been headed after that early brace from Nolan, with the rest of their first-half points arriving from Jamie Myler (play and free), a deflected Seán Forde strike, Enda Minogue, Michael Molloy, and Myler again.
Tipperary were restricted to a couple of converted frees from Adam McGrath, and they actually didn't score from play until the 46th minute.
It took just 20 seconds of the new half for Molloy to stretch the gap to seven, but Wexford only added one more score, and that didn't arrive until the last minute of normal time.
In between, Tipperary steadily built up a head of steam, with their substitutes all leaving lasting impressions.
Three of the new faces picked off points, while Tommy McDonagh was a constant driving force from defence and Conall Kennedy exerted a big midfield influence during his 24 minutes on the field before being taken off.
Wexford's lead was reduced to 0-9 to 0-5 by the three-quarters stage after three pointed frees from Ríain Quigley, and Cormac Maher then became the first Tipperary player to register from play.
The home side's best defender, Liam O'Connor, had also taken a palmed effort from Conall Kennedy off the goal-line during that period.
There was a massive turning point in the space of 90 seconds early in the final quarter, with Seán Forde striking the post after a Byron Byrne shot was blocked before the opposition pounced for the levelling goal.
Conall Kennedy was pulled down for a penalty after playing a one-two and bearing down on goal, and Seán O'Connor took his opportunity from the spot to make it 1-6 to 0-9.
The momentum was now with the Munster side, and Ríain Quigley pointed them in front for the first time from a free before adding one from play after Darragh Brooks made a fine save to deny O'Connor a second goal.
Shane Doyle wasted another golden opportunity before Wexford did rattle the net in the 59th minute, with Liam Coleman responsible after playing a one-two with Seán Forde.
However, the crossed flags signified that the score was disallowed for a square ball, although Myler's penalty goal did arrive inside two minutes to restore the lead.
It wasn't enough to hold out for the win though, and Wexford now face that winner-takes-all tie with Wicklow in the championship on Saturday (12 noon).
Our neighbours are in the same boat as ourselves, with just one win from their development league, the Liam O'Connor Cup.
They lost heavily to Westmeath (1-14 to 1-4) and eventual champions Offaly (2-13 to 0-7) before giving a walkover to Limerick, but they did show signs of improvement last Saturday when defeating Clare by 2-14 to 1-9.
After beating both Meath and Dublin at Minor level last year, they have the potential to be very difficult opponents.
Wexford: Darragh Brooks (Castletown); Killian Pierce (Castletown), Ben Maddock (St. Martin's), Liam O'Connor (St. Mary's, Rosslare); Byron Byrne (HWH-Bunclody), Eoin Porter (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown), Enda Minogue (Ballyhogue, 0-1); Michael Kinsella (Marshalstown-Castledockrell), Liam Coleman (Castletown); Dylan McVeigh (Starlights), Adam Hogan (HWH-Bunclody), Michael Molloy (Kilanerin, 0-2); Jamie Myler (Horeswood, 1-3, 1-0 pen., 0-1 free), Seán Forde (Kilanerin, 0-1), Seán Nolan (Horeswood, capt., 0-2). Subs. - Jamie Kavanagh (HWH-Bunclody) for Pierce (HT), Adam Dempsey (Sarsfields) for Kinsella (HT), Cathal Kirwan (Sarsfields) for Porter (36), James Kelly (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy) for Coleman (40), Coleman for Hogan (49), Dean Doyle (Ballyhogue) for McVeigh (52), Hogan for Kavanagh (60+1), also Ciarán Kavanagh (HWH-Bunclody), Eoghan Herlihy (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Nathan O'Connor (Starlights), Conor Kehoe (Sarsfields), Seán Bookey (Kilrush), Jack Kehoe (Horeswood), Barry Doyle (Marshalstown-Castledockrell), Jack O'Leary (Volunteers), Peter Kelly (Ballyhogue), Colum Feeney (Adamstown).
Tipperary: Kuba Beben; Liam Cleary, Jack Harney (capt.), Paul Devlin; Mark O'Meara, Darragh O'Leary, Eanna McBride; Aaron O'Neill, Luke Fogarty; Seán O'Connor (1-0 pen.), A.J. Willis, Cillian Crowe; Adam McGrath (0-3 frees), Cian O'Sullivan, Ríain Quigley (0-4, 3 frees). Subs. - Shane Doyle (0-1) for O'Sullivan (HT), Conall Kennedy for Fogarty (HT), Tommy McDonagh for Devlin (HT), Cormac Maher (0-1) for McGrath (40), Kevin Grogan (0-1) for Kennedy (54), Conor Fahy for O'Leary, black card (60).
Referee: David O'Connor (Dublin).