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1-12 for sharpshooter O'Connor as Wexford beat Cork to top group

Both sides were already sure of their tickets to the semi-finals, but Darragh Egan’s men came out on top.

Wexford’s Rory O’Connor and Cork’s Niall O’Leary.
Wexford’s Rory O’Connor and Cork’s Niall O’Leary.
Image: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Wexford 1-22

Cork 1-17

A STORMING FIRST-HALF catapulted Wexford towards topping Group A of the Allianz Hurling League after Division 1 qualifying following Sunday’s summit meeting with Cork at Chadwicks Wexford Park.

Both sides were already sure of their tickets to the semi-finals as they boasted 100% records.

But Wexford were intent on maintaining their solid form under new boss Darragh Egan — and a fifth-minute goal from sharpshooter Rory O’Connor, who finished with 1-12, inspired them to a 1-13 to 0-8 half-time lead in front of a near 6,000 crowd.

Cork stormed back to within 1-14 to 0-16.

But the locals reasserted to snatch a semi-final ticket against South East rivals Waterford, while Cork go up against Kilkenny next weekend.

Wexford were sporting the retro jersey from the 1993 season when they were locked in a three-game league final saga against eventual champions Cork.

And the purple-and-gold outstripped the Rebels when dashing clear by 1-3 to no-score as Rory O’Connor collected a long delivery and fended off a defender and the ‘keeper before kicking to the empty net in the fifth minute.

Wexford’s lead swelled to a 1-10 to 0-4 after 19 minutes with Diarmuid O’Keeffe, teenager Corey Byrne-Dunbar, Conor McDonald and Oisín Foley amongst the additional scorers against a laboured Cork.

But Kieran Kingston’s men rustled up a strong finish to the half to shave the margin to 1-13 to 0-8 at the change-of-ends as Conor Lehane (two), Robert Downey and Shane Kingston (free) made inroads.

With three personnel changes, the Cork management’s demand for improvement was supported on the field as they cut the gap to 1-14 to 0-14 by the 55th minute with Alan Connolly, Lehane and sub Mark Keane inflicting damage.

But Wexford regrouped and a monstrous score from defender Pádraig Foley featured prominently as the home-side surged ahead by 1-21 to 0-16 after 65 minutes.

Cork didn’t relent, and a quickly-taken free from Lehane set up Alan Connolly for a smartly-taken goal on 70 minutes.

The Wexford net survived a number of further scares before Darragh Egan’s men emerged with maximum points from their divisional exploits.

Scorers for Wexford: Rory O’Connor 1-12 (0-5 frees, 0-1 ‘65), Pádraig Foley (1 free), Oisín Foley, Conor McDonald 0-2 each, Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Corey Byrne-Dunbar, Jack O’Connor, Liam Óg McGovern 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cork: Conor Lehane 0-6 (3 frees), Alan Connolly 1-1, Shane Kingston 0-3 (frees), Ciarán Joyce (1 ‘65), Robert Downey 0-2 each, Luke Meade, Mark Keane, Jack O’Connor 0-1 each.

Wexford

1. Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown)

2. Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers), 3. Liam Ryan (Rapparees), 4. Conor Devitt (Tara Rocks)

5. Pádraig Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn), 12. Kevin Foley (Rapparees, capt.), 6. Damien Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien)

8. Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St. Anne’s), 9. Cathal Dunbar (Naomh Eanna)

10. Liam Óg McGovern (St. Anne’s), 11. Oisín Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn), 7. Jack O’Connor (St. Martin’s)

13. Rory O’Connor (St. Martin’s), 14. Conor McDonald (Naomh Eanna), 15. Corey Byrne-Dunbar (Ferns St. Aidan’s)

Substitutes:

18. Mikie Dwyer (Fethard) for Byrne-Dunbar (48)

22. Charlie McGuckin (Naomh Eanna) for J O’Connor (55)

26. Oisín Pepper (Rapparees) for Dunbar (60)

19. Connal Flood (Cloughbawn) for Devitt (65)

20. Conor Hearne (Shelmaliers) for R O’Connor (69)

Cork

1. Ger Collins (Ballinhassig)

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2. Damien Cahalane (St. Finbarr’s), 3. Daire O’Leary (Watergrasshill), 4. Niall O’Leary (Castlelyons)

5. Sean O’Leary-Hayes (Midleton), 6. Ciarán Joyce (Castlemartyr), 7. Robert Downey (Glen Rovers)

8. Brian Roche (Bride Rovers), 9. Luke Meade (Newcestown)

10. Seamus Harnedy (St. Ita’s), 11. Shane Barrett (Blarney), 12. Seán Twomey (Courcey Rovers)

13. Shane Kingston (Douglas), 14. Alan Connolly (Blackrock), 15. Conor Lehane (Midleton)

Substitutes:

21. Sam Quirke (Midleton) for Roche (HT)

26. Mark Keane (Ballygiblin) for Harnedy (HT)

19. Conor Cahalane (St. Finbarr’s) for Twomey (HT)

24. Jack O’Connor (Sarsfields) for Kingston (45)

23, Robbie O’Flynn (Erin’s Own) for Barrett (64)

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).

BTL 5

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