Wexford pick up first Leinster win against Carlow to edge closer to qualification
Wexford 2-28 Carlow 0-19
Conor McDonald led the charge for Wexford with 1-4 as Davy Fitzgerald's side picked up their first victory in the Leinster SHC with a comprehensive defeat of Carlow to edge closer to qualification.
With 6,500 watching at Innovate Wexford Park, the Model men added to earlier draws against Dublin and Galway to pull away from Colm Bonnar's men with a powerful second-half showing, which greatly aids their scoring difference.
Despite performing with credit at various stages, Carlow are relegated back to the Joe McDonagh Cup with their place in Leinster for 2020 being taken by the winner of this year's second-tier competition.
Carlow – playing with the aid of a decent breeze in the first half – were hit with an early Wexford flurry as points from McDonald and Lee Chin (free) opened the contest before a sublime goal from Rory O'Connor in the fifth minute.
O'Connor finished with aplomb after a brilliant team move involving McDonald and Chin but Marty Kavanagh got the visitors off the mark at the other end when fetching the resultant puck out and firing over.
McDonald and Chin (free) stretched Wexford's lead to six before Carlow attacker Edward Byrne was denied a certain goal soon after with Liam Ryan making a crucial flick to avert danger.
Wexford looked to be in cruise control when Paul Morris sent them into a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 1-7 to 0-3, but Chris Nolan and Kavanagh (free) kept the Barrowsiders in touch.
Kavanagh's unerring accuracy from placed balls helped Bonnar's men to stem the tide while Nolan was unlucky to see his 18th minute goal effort saved by Fanning as they desperately sought a green flag.
Carlow frustrated the home side with huge endeavour all over the pitch and points from Sean Whelan and John Michael Nolan deservedly left just two in it at the break, 1-10 to 0-11.
Fitzgerald – who watched the opening period from the stands – will have been seething after watching a limp display as they regularly overplayed the ball, but he got the desired reaction after the break when taking up his post on the sideline.
Wexford hit six of the opening eight scores of the new half, with Cathal Dunbar causing serious damage up front as they opened some daylight between the sides.
Carlow struggled to make any inroads as Kevin Foley continued to adopt the role of sweeper to good effect, with only Kavanagh's frees keeping them afloat.
McDonald's 54th minute goal made it 2-18 to 0-16 and finished the game as a contest as the Slaneysiders put on the afterburners to coast home by 15 points.
Carlow's misery was compounded as both Richard Coady and Marty Kavanagh were dismissed late on for second yellow cards, while the same fate also befell Wexford's Shaun Murphy.
Murphy will be available next Saturday night as they host Kilkenny, however, with a Leinster final place up for grabs should they pick up the victory.
SCORERS – Wexford: L Chin 0-11 (7f, 0-1 '65), C McDonald 1-4, R O'Connor 1-1, C Dunbar 0-3, P Morris, P Foley, D O'Keeffe 0-2 each, S Casey, Joe O'Connor, D Dunne 0-1 each.
Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-13 (10f, 0-1 '65), C Nolan 0-2, S Whelan, E Nolan, JM Nolan, E Byrne 0-1 each.
WEXFORD – M Fanning; D Reck, L Ryan, S Donohoe; M O'Hanlon, S Murphy, P Foley; K Foley, D O'Keeffe; R O'Connor, L Chin, L Óg McGovern; P Morris, C Dunbar, C McDonald.
Subs: S Reck for Murphy (blood 27), Murphy for Reck (32), A Nolan for Morris (50), S Casey for McGovern and D Dunne for O'Connor (both 59), S Reck for Donohoe (60), J O'Connor for Dunbar (70).
CARLOW – B Tracey; K McDonald, P Doyle, M Doyle; E Nolan, D English, R Coady; J Kavanagh, S Whelan; JM Nolan, M Kavanagh, E Byrne; J Doyle, T Joyce, C Nolan.
Subs: J Nolan for Joyce (57), S Murphy for E Byrne (64), G Coady for M Doyle (66), D Byrne for JM Nolan (67).
REF – C Cunning (Antrim)