Laois v Wexford Game at a Glance
Man of the match
Eoin Culleton (Laois)
Even in defeat, Wexford had candidates for this accolade, with veterans David Murphy, Redmond Barry leading the way, Daithi Waters in the middle, along with less-heralded corner-back Michael Furlong. But it is Laois netminder Culleton's second-half intervention that gives him the nod.
Wexford's wastefulness – in all, they had 18 wides, two attempts dropped short and three clear goal-scoring chances. Given the narrow margin of defeat, inaccuracy proved to be their downfall.
With the sides locked together at 2-6 to 0-12, after 10 minutes of the second half, Wexford spurned two goal chances in quick succession that may have given them the confidence to kick on for the finishing line.
Down referee Ciaran Branagan made the inordinately long journey south and peeved many of the home crowd with his calls; Aidan O'Brien quibbled with a few but denied they were a telling factor in the outcome of the game. May have missed a few technical fouls in a frantic endgame as Wexford pushed for a winning goal.
Goals win matches, they say, but in this instance it was a save that proved itself more influential. He may have been helpless for Wexford's first-half brace but when 'keeper Culleton spreadeagled himself to deflect Paddy Byrne's second-half piledriver to safety, Wexford's efforts slowly became more enervated.
WHAT THEY SAID
Justin McNulty (Laois manager):
"The reality is we had two walkaway victories over Carlow and Clare and we didn't know where we were at. The fact Wexford had been through a hard battle with Longford last week meant they were battle hardened and we weren't in that situation and were concerned with that coming into the game. Yes we are happy momentum-wise we are on the up."
Aidan O'Brien (Wexford manager):
"Strictly speaking, we can't claim to have made huge progress this year. We've perhaps treaded water a little. There's no substantial progress but we would hope we're bringing on some younger players who will start taking it on from guys moving on at the other end."
Laois 2 (0)
Wexford 18 (12 first half)
Laois 20 (12)
Wexford 20 (9)
Laois 2 (C Meredith 63, C Kelly 66)
Wexford 1 (D Murphy 61)
Laois meet beaten Ulster finalists Donegal in the final round of football qualifiers next weekend; Wexford manager O'Brien reflects on his first year in charge and recognises the need for fresh faces in his panel.