Allianz NHL Division 1B: Wexford 2-29 Carlow 1-11
It was routine in the end as Wexford cruised to a comfortable victory over a disappointing Carlow, thereby claiming a quarter-final spot at Wexford Park.
Wexford were officially through to the quarter-finals, but a home victory coupled with a Clare loss would have seen them leapfrog the banner county into the semi-final.
But with results going as expected, the Model county had to be satisfied with a place in the quarter-finals as Clare secured that semi-final place with a convincing defeat of Dublin.
Already doomed to relegation play-off, Carlow showed it in their play, for they failed to match the momentum of their opponents, but they will be desperately disappointed with their 70 minutes, as they succumbed to one of their heaviest defeats without offering a serious challenge.
The home side made the brighter start shooting into the breeze, going into a 0-7 to 0-0 lead by the 12th minute with Rory O'Connor shooting over three points (two frees) while Conal Flood, Harry Kehoe, Jack O'Connor and Aidan Nolan also got in on the scoring act.
Carlow had to wait until the 14th minute for their opening point via a Chris Nolan free.
The Barrowsiders were given brief hope when Diarmuid Byrne forced home a 19thminute goal to reduce the deficit to 0-7 to 1-3, but with Wexford responding with a string of points to go along with a Rory O'Connor goal from a free, the home side led 1-13 to 1-6 at the interval.
For Wexford it was a case of completing the job on the resumption.
After Rory O'Connor and Chris Nolan had exchanged pointed frees it was home sub Paul Morris who took up the scoring responsibility shooting over eight points, four frees, as they totally dominated the second 35 minutes.
Carlow could only manage points from Nolan frees, before the Model men completed the task with a 69th-minute Diarmuid O'Keeffe goal to complete a satisfactory afternoon, while Carlow finished with 14 men having full-forward Edward Byrne sent off on a second yellow card after 45 minutes.
Fitzgerald was happy with the display.
"I thought at times we played some really good hurling, hitting over some great scores. That's the quality that's in the team but there's still room for improvement for the quarter-final," he said.
Scorers – Wexford: R O’Connor (1-4 frees) 1-6, D O’Keeffe 1-2, P Morris (4f) 0-8, J O’Connor 0-3, C Flood, A Nolan, H Kehoe 0-2 each, S Donohoe, M Dwyer, C McDonald, C Dunbar 0-1 each. Carlow: D Byrne 1-1, C Nolan (6f) 0-8, T Joyce, M Kavanagh 0-1 each.
Wexford: J Lawlor 7; S Donohoe 7, L Ryan 7, S Reck 7; P Foley 7, M O’Hanlon 7, C Flood 8; L Og McGovern 7, D O’Keeffe 7; A Nolan 6, J O’Connor 7, R O’Connor 8; M Dwyer 7, C McDonald 6, H Kehoe 6. Subs: P Morris 9 for R O’Connor (40), S Murphy 7 for Foley (43), C Dunbar 6 for Kehoe (55), S Casey 6 for J O’Connor (60), G Molloy 6 for McDonald (67).
Carlow: D Jordan 7; M Malone 6, P Doyle 7, M Doyle 7; A Corcoran 7, D English 6, G Bennett 6; S Whelan 6, A Amond 7; J Kavanagh 6, D Byrne 6, J Nolan 6; T Joyce 7, E Byrne 5, C Nolan 8. Subs: M Kavanagh 6for J Kavanagh (Blood Sub 34); C Whelan 6 for D Byrne (35), K McDonald 6 for Whelan (45), C Tracey 6 for J Nolan (49), G Coady 6 for Corcoran (51), J O’Neill 6 for English (60).
Ref – C Cunning (Antrim).