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Higgins strike proves decisive for NUI Galway

AN OPPORTUNIST 31st-minute goal from Dean Higgins proved the decisive score as NUI Galway claimed a deserved victory over an experimental Wexford side in Bellefield on Saturday.

Although a Niall Burke point straight from the throw-in had the visitors in front, it was Wexford who went on to dominate the opening 25 minutes, building a lead of 0-8 to 0-2, despite posting seven wides during that spell.

After an Ian Byrne seventh- minute free had them level, they went on to hit further points through Byrne, John Leacy, Tomas O'Leary and Jim Berry, with Niall Burke pointing a free in between for the visitors. Six behind, NUIG had their best spell approaching the break with Daithi Burke firing over a fine point from play.

After Berry restored the home side's six-point cushion, Higgins got his hurl to a Daithi Burke cross to finish to the net.

Niall Burke and John Paul O'Connell finished with points to leave them just a single score adrift, 0-9 to 1-5, at the interval.

Although Daniel Martin Carroll extended Wexford's lead within one minute of the restart, it was NUIG who went on to take the initiative.

A free from Niall Burke and a point from Cormac Diviney had them level after 42 minutes.

They regained the lead for the first time since the opening seconds through an Eoin Hayes point, going on to add further scores through Niall Burke and Daithi Burke, to lead 1-10 to 0-10 after 45 minutes.

Points from Lee Chin and sub Gary Moore (free) left the minimum separating the sides.

A Burke free helped NUIG to a two-point lead and though Michael O'Hanlon shot a late point, it was the visitors who held out in frenetic finish.

SCORERS -- NUIG: N Burke 0-6, (5f), D Higgins 1-0, D Burke 0-2, J P O'Connell, C Diviney, E Hayes 0-1 each. Wexford: J Leacy (2f, 1 '65'), I Byrne (2f) 0-3 each, J Berry 0-2, L Chin, D M Carroll, T O'Leary, M O'Hanlon, G Moore (f) 0-1 each.

NUIG -- D Tuohy; D Magner, E Fahy, S McCormack; J Morris, D Kenny, C Diviney; J P O'Connell; P Kelly; D Burke, N Burke, R Shanahan; C Hynes, E Hayes, D Higgins. Subs: M Kelly for Morris; S Quinlan for Hayes.

Wexford -- E Martin; B Kenny, B Travers, B Kehoe; W Devereux, J Leacy, J Tonks; L Chin, D O'Keeffe; DM Carroll, J Berry, T O'Leary; E Moore, J Fogarty, I Byrne. Subs: J Guiney for O'Leary; M O'Hanlon for Carroll; G Moore for E Moore; P Doran for Byrne; T O'Leary for Fogarty.

Ref -- A Lagrue (Kildare).

Irish Independent