Morkan's monster point sinks Wexford
A spirited Offaly got their promotion push firmly back on track in Tullamore as they overcame a four-point half-time deficit to edge out Wexford in an exciting and full-blooded clash.
The game was in the melting pot all the way to the end, with Offaly's substitutions making priceless contributions.
The Faithful County were playing catch-up for most of the game, but an Odhran Kealey point in the 63rd minute gave them the lead for the first time and Ollie Baker's charges held out for a much-needed win after their opening-round defeat to Dublin.
Kealey's point was added to by fellow substitute Tom Carroll's superb long-range effort, while a monster point from Derek Morkan put three between them entering the final stages. Wexford brought 'keeper Mark Fanning up for a 21-metre free right on the stroke of full-time, but James Dempsey cleared off the line and Offaly were relieved to hear the sound of the final whistle.
Although this encounter fell far below the standard of hurling needed to come out of the division, Offaly manager Baker was delighted to get back on track, though he was adamant that they still have plenty to work on. "We got the result but we won't be foolish enough to think that a performance like that will do against any other opposition. It was a funny kind of a game, with the wind calm one minute and quite strong the next," explained the Offaly manager.
The strong, gusting wind blew straight down to the town end in O'Connor Park and Wexford, who had the advantage in the opening half, only mustered up a four-point half-time 0-10 to 0-6 lead while amassing eight wides in the opening period.
Offaly made them pay in the second half, with Joe Bergin and Derek Morkan leading the charge. Bergin hit an excellent long-range point in the 61st minute to level it up at 0-13 apiece.
Paul Morris was carrying the scoring can for the Model County, both from play and from frees after regular free-taker Gary Moore was called ashore having had a poor day from the placed balls.
A cold and blustery day for hurling was compounded by eight yellow cards and an excessive free count, but Offaly picked up two invaluable points, landing 16 points without talisman Shane Dooley scoring from play.
Man of the match: D Kenny (Offaly)
Scorers – Offaly: S Dooley 0-7 (7f), J Bergin 0-2, D Morkan, C Egan, C Parlon, D Molloy, J Mulrooney, O Kealey, T Carroll 0-1 each. Wexford: P Morris 0-10 (7 f), R Jacob 0-2, R Kehoe (f), C O'Shaughnessy 0-1 each
OFFALY – J Dempsey 7; C McDonald 7, D Kenny 9, D King 6; D Morkan 8, R Hanniffy 7, S Gardiner 6; K Brady 8, B Carroll 7; C Egan 8, J Bergin 8, C Parlon 8; S Dooley 6, D Molloy 6, J Mulrooney 7. Subs: P Cleary 7 for Gardiner (30), Ryan 7 for D King (34), O Kealey 7 Mulrooney (57), T Carroll 7 for Molloy 60)
WEXFORD – M Fanning 7; E Doyle 7, A Shore 8, B Kenny 7; J Tonks 6, R Kehoe 6, A Kenny 6; D Redmond 7, H Kehoe 7; G Moore 6, S Murphy 6, C O'Shaughnessy 7; P Morris 8, G Sinnott 6, R Jacob 7. Subs: L Chin 8 for A Kenny (23), E Quigley 6 for G Moore (24), M O'Regan for S Murphy (30), M O'Regan 6 for S Murphy (41)
Ref – S Hourigan (Limerick)