Monday 19 February 2018

Wexford find another gear to battle through

WEXFORD 2-15 LONGFORD 0-16 (After extra-time)

Longford’s JJ Matthews and Robert Tierney of Wexford.
Longford’s JJ Matthews and Robert Tierney of Wexford.
Marie Crowe

Marie Crowe

It took extra-time to separate Longford and Wexford in last night's football qualifier, but thanks to a strong performance in the closing stages it is Wexford who will progress in the championship after they prevailed in an extremely hot Pearse Park.

Winning manager Aidan O'Brien revealed after the game that there were plenty of harsh words spoken at half-time. "We had some honest exchanges," said O'Brien.

"The guys responded to that and they accessed some qualities within themselves to swing that game around."

At the final whistle a melee broke out but no cards were issued and the situation was brought under control by the officials. However, O'Brien was very disappointed by what he saw. "It's something I wouldn't condone, it's a bad image for the game in general it's not something you want to see."

It took a while for both sides to settle in the challenging conditions with many passes going astray, shots dropping short and going wide. However, Longford seemed to adapt quickest and by the 20th minute were four points clear, 0-6 to 0-2, thanks to a lot of work from their captain Paul Barden.

Wexford raised their game and kicked two points to narrow the gap but Longford answered with two points of their own.

Longford, wearing white jerseys, went in at the break 0-8 to 0-4 ahead. Wexford came out for the second half all guns blazing and PJ Banville hit the back of the net after just four minutes despite a super effort by Longford goalkeeper Damien Sheriden. Much to the surprise of the Wexford fans he was replaced straight after by Ben Brosnan but O'Brien revealed after the game that he was suffering from the flu.

Longford responded strongly and seemed ready to pull away, but Daithi Waters strolled through their defence and found the back of the net narrowing the gap to just one point with 15 minutes to play. It was nip and tuck and Longford needed Sean McCormack to send the game into extra-time on a score line of 2-08 to 0-14.

At the final whistle a melee broke out casting a shadow over a great night of football but all 30 men were present and accounted for when the extra-time got under way. Wexford went in at half-time of extra-time 2-12 to 0-15 ahead and after the break Shane Roche added another point to break Longford's resolve.

A notable absentee in Pearse Park was dual star Lee Chin; he was named in the subs but his knee injury proved to be worse than expected and he wasn't in attendance. O'Brien is hopeful he will be back in contention for their next qualifier game.

Scorers – Wexford: D Waters 1-1, PJ Banville 1-0, A Flynn, B Brosnan 0-3 each, C Lyng (1f), R Barry, S Roche 0-2 each, J Holmes (1f), A Doyle 0-1 each . Longford: S McCormack 0-9 (7f), S Mulligan 0-2, JJ Matthews, J Keegan, B Gilleran, M Brady, P Barden 0-1 each.

Wexford: A Masterson; M Furlong, G Molloy, R Tierney; B Malone, D Murphy, A Flynn; D Waters, R Quinlivan; J Holmes, P Byrne, A Doyle; C Lyng, R Barry, PJ Banville Subs: C Carty for J Holmes (53), N Mulligan for F McGee (56), S Roche for C Lyng (68), K Gore for A Doyle (70)

Longford: D Sheridan; D Brady, B Gilleran, D Reilly; B O'Farrell, P McCormack, S Mulligan; J Keegan, M Brady; B Mc Elvaney, P Barden P Foy; F McGee, S McCormack, JJ Matthews Subs: D McElliot for J Keegan (62), C Smith for D Reilly (65), A Rowan for P Foy (68), M Huges for JJ Matthews (4 e-t)

Referee: P O'Sullivan (Kerry)

Irish Independent

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