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Wexford U-18s share the spoils with neighbours

Soccer, Wexford Football League: Wexford League 1 Waterford League 1

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Rory O’Connor of the Wexford Football League puts pressure on Adam Butler of Waterford

Rory O’Connor of the Wexford Football League puts pressure on Adam Butler of Waterford

Rory O’Connor of the Wexford Football League puts pressure on Adam Butler of Waterford

Wexford missed out on the chance to top their group in the FAI Youth Inter-League competition when they were held to a draw by neighbours Waterford in testing conditions in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday.

With the sides having overcome Kilkenny 4-0 and 3-1 respectively in their three-team group, top spot was up for grabs, but in the end the stalemate was good enough for the Blues to progress as group winners thanks to superior goal difference.

Wexford still take their place in the knockout stages though, but will have to navigate an away quarter-final if they harbour hopes of going all the way in the competition.

The Slaneysiders certainly had the opportunities for victory as they responded well to Conor Walshe's 17th-minute opener to soon draw level through Rory O'Connor.

They then went on to boss the game territorially in the second-half, but couldn't get the winner through a combination of stout defending by the visitors and failing to take the couple of chances that fell their way.

That said, none of the players can be faulted for their efforts given the dreadful conditions, with the swirling wind and driving rain scuppering the best laid plans of manager Pádraig Whitty and his backroom team.

The hosts began the contest brightly enough, and Kallan Murphy couldn't quite reach a searching Matthew Foley cross with six minutes on the clock.

However, the home side were rocked back on their heels when Salam Nilmeal put Conor Walshe in the clear, and he kept his composure to slide the ball past goalkeeper Jack O'Leary.

The Wexford response was good though, and after Matthew Foley and Darren O'Leary both had efforts on goal, they were back on terms nine minutes later.

Rory O'Connor just failed to get his head on a teasing O'Leary cross from the right, but when the ball was recycled into the danger zone by Lorcan Breen, the New Ross Celtic man poked the ball home following a goalmouth scramble.

In the 38th minute captain O'Connor had to be withdrawn due to injury, which was a blow to the home side.

Waterford twice threatened to get their noses back in front before the interval.

First Ross Cashin's pass found Walsh in space, but his effort was well saved by O'Leary, and then Ravile Kilonde fired over.

However, with the wind at their backs, Wexford enjoyed the lion's share of possession after the interval, although clearcut chances were few and far between.

Finn Bennett did have a sight of goal five minutes after the change of ends, when he burst through but saw his shot drift narrowly wide.

Despite seeing plenty of the ball, the home side didn't seriously threaten again until the 86th minute when Waterford goalkeeper Gavin Buckley did well to tip Cian Byrne's free-kick around the post.

In the 88th minute the Wexford contingent were calling for a penalty after Justin Moran went down in the area, but their appeals fell on deaf ears.

With a minute remaining, Cathal Dowd rose highest to meet Byrne's corner but his header skewed wide, before Wexford created one last opportunity to snatch it at the death four minutes into injury time.

Luke Kavanagh and Dowd combined well to tee up Justin Moran, but his effort was off target and Wexford had to settle for runners-up spot in the group.

Wexford Football League: Jack O'Leary, Darren O'Leary, Cathal Dowd, Conor Roche, Lorcan Breen, Justin Moran, Bill Peare, Rory O'Connor, Finn Bennett, Matthew Foley, Kallan Murphy. Subs. - Luke Kavanagh for O'Connor, inj. (37), Cian Byrne for Breen (HT), David Power for D. O'Leary (75), Ross Proudfoot for Foley (83), also Corey Lawlor, Aaron Roche, Cian Walsh.

Waterford Football League: Gavin Buckley, Ryan Kelly, Joe Hawkes, Jack Brennan, John Teman, Ross Cashin, Darragh Power, Ravile Kilonde, Conor Walshe, Adam Butler, Salam Nilmeal. Subs. - Conor Rea for Brennan (HT), Jack Power for Hawkes, inj. (50), also Graham Kealan, D.J. Melia, Jake O'Connor, Tony Kelly, Liam Culbert.

Referee: Niall Whelan.

Online Editors