WE'VE had 10 years and 91 matches of the hurling qualifier series but on just two occasions have All-Ireland winners taken the scenic route.
Cork got there in 2004 and after a chronic start to their season Tipp made it to the top in 2010. It's highly unlikely that Wexford will get anywhere near that level in 2012 but last night's win, sealed with two quick-fire goals from Diarmuid O'Keeffe and Gareth Sinnott after the restart, was a definite step on the road to recovery after their heartbreak against Offaly.
Their comfortable win over a plucky Westmeath side now sets them up nicely against Carlow in the second round next weekend. Liam Dunne's young team need games and they badly need confidence if they are to develop. Last night, in front of 1,800, they chiselled away to establish a 1-13 to 0-6 lead at the interval.
It took Wexford a while to settle. In fact, the home crowd was growing restless as there was but a solitary point in it until the quarter-hour mark with the hard-working Adam Price and Alan McGrath inspiring the Westmeath defence.
Wexford deployed a loose man in defence -- rotated between the totally composed Keith Rossiter and the industrious David Redmond. Yet, because of that tactic, they were outnumbered in attack. To supplement their challenge Diarmuid Lyng floated between midfield and full-forward and clipped over 15 points to keep them ticking over.
After just 60 seconds of the restart O'Keeffe buried Wexford's second goal. Within two minutes Sinnott had 1-1 to his name and it killed the game off.
Scorers -- Wexford: D Lyng 0-15 (10f), D O'Keeffe 1-2, G Sinnott 1-1, R Jacob 1-0, D Redmond (0-2), H Kehoe, PJ Nolan 0-1 each. Westmeath: N O'Brien 0-5 (4f), B Murtagh 1-1, C Boyle 1-0, J Shaw, F Boyle, R Greville 0-1 each
Wexford: E Martin; E Moore, M O'Hanlon, K Rossiter; D Stamp, C Kenny, R Kehoe; D Redmond, D O'Keeffe; PJ Nolan, G Sinnott, H Kehoe; P Morris, D Lyng, R Jacob. Subs: G Moore for P Morris (43), E Quigley for H Kehoe (57), J Guiney for R Jacob (62), S Murphy for D Redmond (62), S Murphy for D Stamp (65)
Westmeath: S McGovern; C Jordan, A Price, P Fennell; P Dowdall, A McGrath, P Greville; A Clarke, J Clarke; B Murtagh, F Boyle, R Greville; N O'Brien, J Shaw, E Price. Subs: J Gilligan for E Price (h-t), A Dermody for F Boyle (41), T Gallagher for P Fennell (46), D Fennell for A Clarke (46), C Boyle for R Greville (50)
Referee: C Lyons (Cork)
Sunday Indo Sport