One-horse race in the 'Banty' Derby
Monaghan 3-23 Wexford 1-11
The 'Banty Derby' was always destined to be a one-horse race; even the eponymous Monaghan man in exile foretold it so.
Class prevailed consummately, the 19-point disparity a fair reflection of the vast chasm which exists between sides operating at different ends of the league pyramid.
Monaghan evicted much of the anger from their souls after their implosion against Down and ensured the sunny south-east would not be the venue for another of their all too frequent qualifier catastrophes.
And, in shuffling his pack pre throw-in and tossing in an increasingly influential swathe of subs, manager Malachy O'Rourke also ensured that there will be enough internal combustion to fire his squad regardless of who emerges from this morning's Round 3B qualifier draw.
Though PJ Banville pointed a third-minute free for Seamus McEnaney's side - whose fans were seemingly out-numbered in the 3,501 crowd at sun-dappled Wexford Innovate Park -it was all steadily downhill from thereon for the purple and gold.
It took them another 12 minutes to effect even a weak attempt at a score, a half-hour to register a first point from play and so, fuelled by the ninth-minute goal from roving corner-back Fintan Kelly, Monaghan had effectively determined the outcome after the opening furlong.
The one-sidedness of the contest didn't make for much of a spectacle, with Monaghan stronger and more slilful, and the officials didn't help either.
Referee Conor Lane and his colleagues dished out a plethora of black and yellow cards for which there seemed no merit, yet twice ignored blatant black-card offences.
The sight of the field's two most skilful forwards from either side, Conor McManus and Ciaran Lyng, albeit the latter in trash time, being sent from the field after receiving repeated physical punishment all day from defenders beggared belief.
Occasionally, in a game littered with petty fouls and yet scarcely a bone-crunching tackle of note, the official whistled.
Predominantly, the tone was off-key; Lyng, whose departure began the steady erosion of Wexford numbers to 12 by Lane's final shrill peep, may consider inter-county retirement.
If this is how the game treats its marquee players amidst anarchic disarray, who could blame him? McManus, too, was distraught on departure. How can it be?
"It's a good question and it's not one that I can answer. He (Conor) was under pressure from the word go to say the least and I don't know exactly what happened," said O'Rourke.
"He was trying to push people off or something. Thankfully we didn't need him. Sure he can have a bit of a rest.
"There was nothing major. A couple of bad challenges, few black cards and double yellows for very little physical contact. It's very inconsistent. It is a tough job but inconsistency is the main problem."
O'Rourke will now hope Monaghan have ironed theirs from the system; Offaly, Longford and Laois had done for them after Ulster exits in recent times so, even despite its lack of scale, this represented a hump of sorts.
They were galloping freely by the second quarter before their second goal arrived from Owen Duffy and, with Kieran Hughes booming over two trademark, outside of the boot points, they were dominant in all sectors.
Their bench, and a quartet of pre-throw-in switches, reflects intense competition as they stride forth.
Darren Freeman, who soldiered in New York last summer and is now with St Brigid's in Dublin, threw down a gauntlet with three second-half points, and all six starting forwards scored, 1-10 in all from play; five subs raised flags too. As for Wexford, Banty may have run his last race as travel takes its toll; if so, he leaves Wexford football in a better place. Would that the GAA could say the same for the current state of his game.
Scorers - Monaghan: K Duffy, O Duffy 1-1 each, C McCarthy 0-4 (2fs), F Kelly 1-0, D Freeman, S Carey, J McCarron (1f) 0-3 each, K Hughes, G Doogan 0-2 each, D Malone, D Ward, C Walshe, C McManus 0-1 each. Wexford: B Brosnan 1-5 (0-3fs, 0-1 '45'), C Lyng 0-3 (3fs), P J Banville 0-2 (1f), A Flynn 0-1.
Monaghan - R Beggan; F Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie; C Walshe, D Mone, N McAdam; K Hughes, K O'Connell; S Carey, G Doogan, O Duffy; D Malone, J McCarron, C McManus. Subs: D Freeman for McManus (BC 28), K Duffy for D Wylie (ht), C McCarthy for Carey (47), T Kerr for McCarron (47), D Hughes for K Hughes (50), D Ward for O'Connell (65).
Wexford - S Roche; B Malone, J Rossiter, M furlong; E Nolan, J Wadding, T Rossiter; D Waters, N Rossiter; K O'Grady, J Firman, A Flynn; C Lyng, C Carty, P J Banville. Subs: B Brosnan for E Nolan (BC 17), M Dwyer for Carty (ht), J Tubritt for Firman (ht), J Leacy for Wadding (39), C Kehoe T Rossiter (40), P Curtis for Kehoe (47).
Ref - C Lane (Cork)
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