Changes make their mark but managers are not impressed
Wexford 0-16 Louth 1-6
Just 100 fans braved the woeful weather in the Darver Centre of Excellence on Saturday night to see the launch of the 2019 football season.
The impact of the five rule changes was the main topic of conversation in a game which the visitors dominated despite conceding a soft goal early in the second-half.
Referee David O'Connor was in the spotlight early on as he initially allowed a seventh-minute goal from Wexford's Paul Curtis, but there had been four consecutive handpasses in the build-up, and after consulting with the linesman the score was disallowed.
Otherwise, the introduction of the new regulations went smoothly, with three of the 22 points scored coming via attacking marks.
"You'll need four or five free-takers because they are all going to get free-taking opportunities from that mark over the course of the season," said Wexford boss Paul McLoughlin.
There was a noticeable increase in the number of kickpasses and a drop in the handpassing rate, particularly in the first-half.
"But some of those kickpasses were after one or two handpasses - lads buying back the three handpasses. That is so obvious," said McLoughlin, who criticised "a tendency to talk down football".
"I'm sure there are some bad games but I've seen a few bad hurling matches as well," he said.
New Louth boss Wayne Kierans - whose side failed to score a point from play in the second-half - is not a fan of the new rules.
"I don't agree with the rules at all, and we were done a couple of times with the handpass rule. The lads are still learning and we obviously have a lot of work to do.
"You can't build it short-short-short all the way up the pitch. It's just how we work around it. It is early days in fairness."
Louth's Tommy Durnin was the first player to be sin-binned, unluckily so, just before half-time. And Kierans admitted that he had forgotten at half-time that the midfielder would be returning to the fray.
"It's how you work around being down to 14 men for 10 minutes," he said.
There was no sin-bin as such - Durnin sat with his colleagues on the Louth bench while sidelined.
After a competitive first quarter, four unanswered points from Wexford put them 0-9 to 0-5 ahead at the break. A feature of the first-half was the two long-distance frees converted by Jonathan Bealin - son of former Dublin star and Wexford manager Paul.
Though Louth substitute Sam Mulroy pulled a goal back after a mistake by Wexford keeper Conor Swaine, the visitors outscored their opponents six points to one to run out easy winners as the home challenge faded.
SCORERS - Wexford: J Bealin (3fs), K O'Grady (1m), C Devereux (1f) 0-3 each; C Carty, P Curtis 0-2; B O'Connor, D Shanley, B Brosnan 0-1 each. Louth: S Mulroy 1-0; T McEneaney 0-2 (2f); C Brannigan, C Callan, R Burns (m), N Conlon 0-1 each.
wexford - C Swaine; M Furlong, G Sheehan, C Carty; G Malone, S Doyle, M O'Connor; B O'Connor, N Hughes; C Devitt, J Bealin, K O'Grady; P Curtis, D Shanley, M O'Regan. Subs: R Frayne for O'Regan (52); B Brosnan for Shanley (57); C Devereux for Curtis (59); D Shannon for Devitt (61); S Barden for M O'Connor (67).
Louth - A McGauley; H Osborne, D Corcoran, P Englishby; L Grey, D Marks, J Clutterbuck; T Durnin, C Early; C Brannigan, C Callan, C McKeever; R Burns, T McEneaney, J McEneaney. Subs: A Williams for Clutterbuck, S Mulroy for T McEneaney; E Callaghan for Grey (all h-t); R Moore for McKeever (50); N Conlon for Burns (57); B Duffy for Marks (57).
Ref - D O'Connor (Dublin)