Dunne hails Wexford's second-half surge as Jacob leads the way
Wexford 2-21 Antrim 1-12
WEXFORD manager Liam Dunne gained real satisfaction from his team's second-half performance against Antrim at Wexford Park.
Having led by four points at the interval, Wexford put together a fine second-half display as they outscored the visitors 1-8 to 0-3 in what turned out to be a one-sided second half, so much so that all of Antrim's three second-half points came from Neil McManus frees.
Six days earlier, Wexford allowed Offaly to slip in for two points with a late rally, but there were no mistakes this time round for Dunne's charges and they could have won by even more.
"That was the one thing that was different. Last week we built a lead, but did not push on and got caught in the closing stages," he said.
"This time we responded in the second half. We had a four-point cushion having played into the breeze. Rory Jacob got the goal within 30 seconds of the restart, which set us up.
"We kept on hurling, we decided at half-time that we were going to get stuck in, go for early scores. We won most of the outfield posses-sion, won almost every ball in the middle of the park and we got the scores," Dunne added.
Antrim boss Kevin Ryan was at a loss to explain his side's second-half performance: "We played some fine hurling in the first half, could have had a couple of more goals with a little luck. We would have liked to have gone in with a half-time lead, but their goal within 30 seconds of the restart changed the game.
"It was disappointing we failed to score from play in the second half. With each game the stakes are getting higher and we just have to push on in the relegation fight."
Antrim opened impressively, taking the game to the home side after falling behind to a third-minute Jacob point. Thirty seconds later, Shane McNaughton brought the sides level.
Antrim got a rather fortuitous goal eight minutes into the game. Wexford 'keeper Mark Fanning caught a long McManus delivery, but delayed his clearance. The in-rushing Shane Casey got in the block, with the ball finishing in the back of the net, giving his side a 1-2 to 0-2 lead. The sides continued to exchange points and eventually Wexford got the breakthrough their game so desperately needed.
A long Fanning puck-out dropped over the half-back line, leaving David Redmond to race clear before applying an excellent finish to the bottom-right corner of the net, to give the home side a 1-10 to 1-7 lead. After sharing some more points, Wexford went into the interval leading 1-13 to 1-9.
Jacob was in irrepressible form in the home attack with some searching running and, within 11 seconds of the restart, he cut inside the defence to blaze a great ball to the top right-hand corner of the net, giving his side a 2-14 to 1-9 lead.
Wexford enjoyed a surplus of possession as Antrim struggled in the outfield exchanges, the Saffrons trailing 2-16 to 1-12 with 13 minutes to go. Wexford's Jacob and Paul Morris were particularly prominent and scored at ease, while Antrim could only manage three second-half points as their game disintegrated.
Man of the match: R Jacob (Wexford)
Scorers – Wexford: R Jacob 1-5, D Redmond 1-2, P Morris 0-6 ( 1f, 1, '65'), G Sinnott 0-3, E Quigley 0-2, H Kehoe, G Moore, E Martin 0-1 each. Antrim: S Casey 1-0, N MMcManus 0-6 (4f), S McCrory, N McAuley, C Laverty, P Shiels, S McNaughton, T McCloskey 0-1 each.
Wexford – M Fanning 6; B Kenny 7, A Shore 7, E Doyle 7; J Tonks 7, R Kehoe 6, L Chin 7; D Redmond 8, H Kehoe 7; C O'Shaughnessy 5, E Quigley 7, G Sinnott 6 P Morris 7, P Doran 5, R Jacob 9. Subs: P J Nolan 6 for O'Shaughnessy (19), C Kenny 6 for H Kehoe (inj 37), G Moore 6 for Doran (h-t), Stephen Murphy for Nolan (63), E Martin for Doyle (63).
Antrim – R McGarry 7; A Graffin 6, C Carson 6, M McFadden 6; S McCrory 7, N McAuley 7, C McKinley 6; M Donnelly 7, C Laverty 6; P Shiels 6, S Beatty 6, R McFall 6; N McManus 7, S Casey 6, S McNaughton 6. Subs: D Hamill 7 for McFall (26), T McCloskey 7 for Laverty (26), J McGreevey 6 for Carson ((h-t), D McCleane 6 for Casey (43), B McCarry for Donnelly (62).
Ref – A Stapleton (Laois)