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Wexford dish out embarrassing thumping to 12-man Offaly

Wexford 5-24 Offaly 2-9

Jack O'Connor of Wexford in action against David King of Offaly
Jack O'Connor of Wexford in action against David King of Offaly

Sean McGoldrick

Wexford crushed 12-man Offaly by 24 points in an embarrassing one-sided Leinster championship tie in Tullamore.

Offaly had full back Sean Gardiner sent off just before half time after he conceded two penalties in the space of ninety seconds.

Then in the second half Oisin Kelly – who had just scored a goal – was red carded while substitute Ronan Hughes also picked up a straight red-card near the finish as the Faithful County were overwhelmed by the visitors who recorded 18 wides.

Kevin Martin's side have to beat Dublin in Parnell Park next Sunday to have any chance of keeping their place in the Leinster series. A loss will mean they will compete in the second tier Joe McDonagh Cup next season – unless the GAA change the rules.

Meanwhile, Wexford are now within touching distance of a top three finish – though Davy Fitzgerald will be mindful that the biggest tests against All-Ireland champions Galway in Wexford Park next Saturday week following by a visit to Nowlan Park to face Kilkenny the following week - have still to come.

The outcome of these two games will determine whether Wexford reach another Leinster final.

Wexford had a dream start with Conor McDonald finding the Offaly net in the second minute – though there was a touch of good fortune about the score as a free from Paudie Foley rebounded off the the upright straight into the forward's path.

And really it was Offaly who needed every bit of good fortune as it quickly became evident that there was a huge gulf in class between the sides. Everything that Wexford did in the early stages was crisp as they pulled the home side's defence all over O'Connor Park despite playing against the breeze.

Their second goal in the 13th minute emphasised the gulf in class between the sides as a wonderful crossfield pass found corner back Simon Donohoe in splendid isolation in the danger-zone and he linked up with Aidan Nolan who found the net from close range.

The goal gave Wexford a 2-5 to 0-2 advantage and Offaly's only tactic of piling high ball in on top of Joe Bergin wasn't working. They hit two points in a row for the first time but Wexford were soon back on the scoring trail and, by the 20th minute, five of their first forwards had scored from play.

In the five minutes before the break Offaly literally fell over the precipice. Full back Sean Gardiner was booked for a foul on Rory O'Connor in the square after he was put through by Paul Morris. Aidan Nolan's weakly-struck penalty was saved by Eoghan Cahill and when Rory O'Connor drove a resultant 65 wide, Offaly breathed a sigh of relief.

But their respite lasted less than 60 seconds. In their next attack Conor McDonald got clear and when Gardiner hauled him down, referee James McGrath had no option but to book him again which meant he was red carded and Offaly were down to 14 men.

This time goalkeeper Mark Fanning came forward and deceived Cahill with a beautiful strike to the corner of the Offaly net. So by half time any lingering competitive elements of the contest had disappeared as Wexford led by 15 points (3-12; 0-6).

The misery continued for Offaly after the break. Six minutes into the second half Lee Chin cleanly fielded a Paudie Foley cut inside his man and beat Eoghan Cahill for his side's fourth goal. As the skies darkened over so did the mood of the Offaly fans as Wexford hit their fifth goal after 44 minutes.

A neat interchange between Chin and Jack O'Connor unlocked the Offaly defence before the latter found the net. The only moment of respite for Offaly came when Oisin Kely goaled in the 46th minute but his evening was over two minutes later when he was red-carded following an incident near the stand touchline.

Offaly finished with 12 men after substitute Ronan Hughes was given a straight red card following a late challenge on Mark Fanning. Offaly's Shane Dooley did score a consolation goal with the second last puck of the game but it was an embarrassing night for the Faithful county as they slumped to a 24-point loss.

The official attendance was the Tullamore double-header was 6,186.

Offaly: E Cahill; P Delaney, S Gardiner, B Conneely; D Egan, P Camon, D O'Toole-Greene; S Kinsella, D King; O Kelly (1-1), C Mahon, B Murphy; S Dooley (1-5, 5f), J Bergin (0-1), K Dunne (0-1). Subs: C Egan for Mahon ht; T Geraghty (0-1) for Murphy ht; D Currams for Kinsella 43m; P Rigney for Conneely 48m; R Hughes for Bergin 53m.

Wexford: M Fanning 1-0 pen; D Reck 0-1), L Ryan, S Donohoe; P Foley, M O'Hanlon, D O'Keeffe (0-1); A Nolan (1-1), S Murphy; L Chin (1-4, 4f), K Foley (0-1), J O'Connor (1-3); P Morris (0-2), R O'Connor (0-7, 4f, 1 65), C McDonald (1-1) Subs: C Firman for Donohoe 46m; H Kehoe (0-3, 1f) for Morris 51m; Liam Og McGovern for R O'Connor 51m; W Devereux for P Foley 57m; D Dunne for Chin 65m;

Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)

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