Ronan Fagan reports from Chadwicks Wexford Park
ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONS Limerick were rocked by a second-half Mikie Dwyer goal in Sunday’s Allianz Hurling League Division 1 opener against jubilant Wexford at a blustery Chadwicks Wexford Park.
John Kiely’s men overcame some alarming first-half shooting – ten wides – to lead 0-7 to 0-6 at the break.
But Wexford kept pace and stoutly maintained an edge after Dwyer’s 59th minute breakthrough turned the tables by 1-9 to 0-11 as the Model County secured their first competitive victory over the Shannonsiders since the corresponding league fixture in 2017.
Wexford’s odds-defying feat is testament to the fortitude of the squad just a week after suffering a sixteen point hammering by Dublin in the Walsh Cup final, and manager Darragh Egan started with eleven of that side in a resounding display of faith.
Limerick had stormed to Munster league honours in January, and they started with nine of last August’s All-Ireland heroes on this occasion.
But their finishing troubles from that pre-season tournament carried over into this Group A league duel as they squandered a host of chances despite first assistance of the strong wind.
Indeed, as they erred, Jack O’Connor fired Wexford into a 0-2 to níl lead before Declan Hannon and Aaron Gillane levelled after twelve minutes.
But Limerick’s shooting issues saw Oisín Foley, a league debutante, and Diarmuid O’Keeffe assert Wexford by 0-4 to 0-2 before Conor McDonald was denied a goal as Dan Morrissey recovered to clear.
Wexford maintained a two point advantage following a double exchange of scores, but Limerick sorted out their radar to claw out a 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead after a double from Gearóid Hegarty and a Diarmaid Byrnes’ free.
Byrnes tagged on another dead-ball on the resumption, but a further Jack O’Connor brace hammered home Wexford’s intent, and the sides remained inseparable after 47 minutes as Oisín Foley cancelled out a David Reidy free (0-9 each).
Limerick sought to steal clear as Robbie Hanley and Hegarty shot them 0-11 to 0-9 clear.
But Wexford fired back with the decisive blow – Mikie Dwyer latching onto a long-range Jack O’Connor free to net despite losing his balance.
Conor McDonald and Connal Flood increased the margin to 1-11 to 0-11 before Wexford held firm in the face of desperate Limerick efforts to salvage something.
Scorers for Wexford: Jack O’Connor (0-5, 4 frees), Mikie Dwyer (1-0), Oisín Foley, Connal Flood (0-2 each), Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Conor McDonald (0-1 each).
Scorers for Limerick: Diarmaid Byrnes (0-3, 1 ’65, 2 frees), Gearóid Hegarty (0-3), Aaron Gillane (0-2 frees), Declan Hannon, David Reidy (free), Robbie Hanley (0-1 each).
1 Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown)
2 Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers), 3 Liam Ryan (Rapparees), 4 Matthew O’Hanlon (St. James’)
5 Damien Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien), 6 Pádraig Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn), 20 Connal Flood (Cloughbawn)
8 Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St. Anne’s), 9 Cathal Dunbar (Naomh Éanna)
11 Liam Óg McGovern (St. Anne’s), 7 Jack O’Connor (St. Martin’s), 12 Charlie McGuckin (Naomh Éanna)
10 Oisín Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn), 14 Conor McDonald (Naomh Éanna), 15 Mikie Dwyer (Fethard)
19 David Dunne (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy) for Dunbar (60)
25 Oisín Pepper (Rapparees) for McGuckin (64)
23 Paul Morris (Ferns St. Aidan’s) for O’Connor (70)
1 Nicky Quaid (Effin)
2 Barry Nash (South Liberties), 3 Dan Morrissey (Ahane), 4 Richie English (Doon)
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5 Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell), 6 Declan Hannon (Adare), 7 Colin Coughlan (Ballybrawn)
22 Robbie Hanley (Kilmallock), 9 William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh)
10 Cathal O’Neill (Crecora Manister), 11 Tom Morrissey (Ahane), 12 Gearoid Hegarty (St, Patrick’s)
13 Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), 14 Pat Ryan (Doon), 15 David Reidy (Dromin-Athlacca)
21 Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon) for Gillane (HT)
26 Oisín O’Reilly (Kilmallock) for Ryan (46)
17 Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh) for O’Neill (60)
24 Darren O’Connell (Kildimo-Pallaskenry) for Reidy (67)
8 Brian O’Grady (Kilteely-Dromkeen) for Hanley (70)
Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).
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