Waterford 3-14 Wexford 1-18
It was a remarkable day for Waterford when they won their first Qualifier game since 2011 as the result of shocking Wexford in this dramatic opening round Qualifier game at Innovate Wexford Park.
Wexford coming into the game off the back of an extra time defeat to Laois, were seeking to end a dismal record of only a single victory from six league games and one championship, while Waterford were demolished by Tipperary in their opening round Munster championship game, so it was a case of both sides trying to resurrect their season.
Wexford showed one change from their official side, handing an inter-county debut to Cork native and Gorey based Garda, David Shannon who took the place of the injured Paul Curtis in attack, while Waterford started with an unchanged side, as manager Tom McGlinchey tried to re-build confidence following their demoralising championship exit.
Both sides started casually playing most of their football around midfield, leaving one having to wait until the sixth minute for the games opening score, a Jason Curry pointed free for the visitors. After Donal Shanley and Conor Murray had exchanged points, it was Wexford who began to dictate the pace resulting in three unanswered points through John Tubritt, a Shanley free, and Eoghan Nolan to lead 0-5 to 0-2 after thirteen minutes.
Waterford now began to burst strongly out of defence with lightning counter attacks and it was centre-back Shane Ryan who got on the end of a sweeping move involving some five players to beat keeper Conor Swaine in a one to one with a low shot to the corner of the net. Two minutes later Ryan should have had a second goal but pulled his shot across the face of the goal and just outside the left hand post.
While Wexford battled their way back into the game resulting in a Brian Malone point, but ten minutes before the break a great run from wing-back Brian Looby set up J J Hutchinson who sent a rising shot to the roof of the net, giving his side a 2-6 to 0-7 lead.
Jason Curry responded with a Waterford pointed free, but it was Wexford who finished the half strongly, kicking three unanswered points through Ben Brosnan, two, and a Shanley free, but it was Waterford who led 2-7 to 0-10 at the interval.
Wexford needed an early second half response but when a goal chance presented itself, Ben Brosnan delayed his shot which was blocked and eventually cleared to safety. Spurred on by this let off Waterford returned to the attack and it was Kieran Power who increased his sides lead following a brilliant run out of defence by Conor Murrary.
With Wexford struggling it was Tommy Prendergast who took control in midfield and it was the result of his splendid run from deep in midfield that set up sub Joe Allen who blazed a tremendous shot low past keeper Conor Swaine leaving the eventual winners with a 3-8 to 0-11 lead after forty-five minutes.
It was Tubritt and Shaney points that kept Wexford in contention, but when Murray, J J Hutchinson and Jason Curry responded with three unanswered points to extend their side into a 3-13 to 0-15 led entering the closing eight minutes. When Wexford looked comfortable, it was Wexford who staged a dramatic late recovery in the six minutes of additional time, bringing an Eoghan Porter goal, after an earlier Donal Shanley effort had been disallowed for a square infringement, but the response came too late as the Deise county held out for a dramatic first victory since 2011 in the Qualifiers.
Wexford scorers: E Porter 1-0; D Shanley 0-9, 0-8 frees; J Tubritt 0-5; B Brosnan 0-2; B Malone, E Nolan 0-1 each.
Waterford: J J Hutchinson 1-1; S Ryan, J Allen 1-0 each; J Curry 0-5 frees; C Murray 0-4; K Power 0-2; S Ryan, T Prendergast 0-1 each.
Wexford: C Swaine, M Furlong, E Porter, C Carty; S Doyle, N Rossiter, T Rossiter; G Malone, B Malone; E Nolan, B Brosnan, J Stafford; D Shannon, D Shanley, J Tubritt. Subs: M O’Connor for D Shannon (ht); R Frayne for Doyle (ht); N Doyle for Nolan(42); B O’Connor for T Rossiter (48); C McCabe for Brosnan (56); D Holmes for Stafford (62).
Waterford: S Enright; J Mullaney, S Prendergast, J McGrath; B Looby, S Ryan, A Trihy; T Prendergast, M Curry; G Crotty, K Power, D Guiry; J Curry, J J Hutchinson, C Murray. Subs: J Allen for Crotty (B.C, 40); T O’Gorman for Power (51); C McCarthy for Murray (73); M Cummins for S Prendergast (B. C., 74)
Referee: C Reilly (Meath).