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McDonald goal the decider as Wexford edge Galway to set up semi with Cats

Wexford set up a Division 1 semi-final with neighbours Kilkenny after an intriguing quarter-final battle with the champions.

Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Wexford 1-23

Galway 0-23

Ronan Fagan reports from Innovate Wexford Park

WEXFORD’S OWN IRELAND Six Nations rugby hero Tadgh Furlong was among the appreciative attendance as Davy Fitzgerald’s men ended Galway’s defence of the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 crown in today’s intriguing quarter-final at Innovate Wexford Park.

And the result paves the way for a mouth-watering penultimate-round derby against Kilkenny, who shaded Wexford recently in their their group-stage clash.

After double postponement owing to snow, Wexford and Galway warmed to the task and were level eight times, with Conor Whelan making it 0-20 to 1-17 after 61 minutes. But Rory O’Connor and Conor McDonald assumed the starring roles in Wexford’s winning dash as manager Davy Fitz scored his seventh competitive win over Galway in 13 attempts.

Joe Canning was making his first start of the year for the reigning All-Ireland champions after injury, and he managed to point a couple of early frees as the sides tied on 0-5 apiece after 18 minutes.

Johnny Coen, Conor Whelan and Joseph Cooney also contributed for the defending champions in those formative stages, while free-takers Lee Chin, Paudie Foley and Rory O’Connor together with Kevin Foley and Diarmuid O’Keeffe had Wexford firmly in the running.

The hosts generated a promising 0-8 to 0-5 advantage after 25 minutes as Rory O’Connor (0-2f) and O’Keeffe continued to impress.

But Galway punished basic errors to turn the tables by 0-9 to 0-8 on 30 minutes as Johnny Coen, Conor Whelan and Cathal Mannion obliged.

Wexford shook things up though after a line-ball was worked through to Rory O’Connor, whose shot was brilliantly parried by the ‘keeper only for Conor McDonald to pounce and finish to the open net for a 1-9 to 0-9 lead, which Lee Chin extended to four points.

Canning intervened with a couple of late dead-balls to pare the gap down to 1-9 to 0-11 at the break.

Galway appeared to be motoring on the re-start as Mannion, Coen and Canning (free) fuelled their charge to lead by 0-14 to 1-9 inside four minutes.

But the topsy-turvy nature of proceedings was emphasised as Wexford, with wind advantage, reasserted by 1-13 to 0-14 by the 44th-minute following a surge of scores from Paudie Foley (2 frees), Jack O’Connor and Kevin Foley.

Wexford maintained that gap after 51 minutes (1-16 to 0-17) with the aid of booming efforts from play by defenders Paudie Foley and Liam Ryan, and Galway endured a serious setback when no.15 Jack Coyne was red-carded for an off-the-ball offence after the referee consulted with his umpires.

Sub Aidan Nolan almost made a telling impact seconds after his introduction as he fed the on-rushing Paudie Foley for a goal chance only for the wing-back’s shot to fly over the ‘bar (1-17 to 0-18).

Wexford just couldn’t pull clear and extra-time seemed a distinct possibility as Canning, sub Jason Flynn and Conor Whelan (2) had things delicately poised. However, with Rory O’Connor and Conor McDonald enlivening the home support with quality scores, Wexford stayed in front.

In fact, Kevin Foley was unfortunate with a gilt-edged goaling chance before, at 1-23 to 0-23 and seconds of added-time left, Joe Canning was denied by ‘keeper Mark Fanning as he tried to force extra-time from a last-gasp free.

The final-whistle sounded immediately to leave Wexford savouring some measure of revenge for last year’s Leinster final defeat to Micheál Donoghue’s charges and licking their lips as they resume rivalry with Kilkenny next weekend.

Scorers for Wexford: Rory O’Connor 0-6 (4f), Conor McDonald 1-2, Pádraig Foley 0-5 (3f), Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-3, Lee Chin (1f), Kevin Foley 0-2 each, Jack O’Connor, Liam Ryan, Harry Kehoe 0-1.

Scorers for Galway: Joe Canning 0-10 (9f, 1 ’65), Conor Whelan 0-5, Johnny Coen, Cathal Mannion 0-3 each, Joseph Cooney, Jason Flynn 0-1 each.

Wexford

1 Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown)

4 Simon Donohoe (Shelmaliers)
3 Liam Ryan (Rapparees)
2 Damien Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien)

7 Diarmuid O’Keeffe (St Anne’s)
6 Matthew O’Hanlon (St James’ – joint-capt.)
5 Pádraig Foley (Crossabeg-Ballymurn)

14 Rory O’Connor (St Martin’s)
8 Kevin Foley (Rapparees)

10 Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s)
15 David Dunne (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy)
9 Shaun Murphy (Oulart-The Ballagh)

12 Paul Morris (Ferns St Aidan’s)
11 Conor McDonald (Naomh Éanna)
22 Lee Chin (Faythe Harriers)

Subs: 17 Willie Devereux (St Martin’s) for Reck (14), 26 Aidan Nolan (HWH Bunclody) for Dunne (54), 20 Harry Kehoe (Cloughbawn) for J O’Connor (68), 13 Cathal Dunbar (Naomh Eanna) for Morris (68)

Galway

1 James Skehill (Cappataggle)

2 Adrian Tuohy (Beagh)
3 John Hanbury (Rahoon/Newcastle)
5 Jack Grealish (Gort)

4 Pádraig Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh)
6 Gearóid McInerney (Oranmore/Maree)
7 Aidan Harte (Gort)

11 Joe Canning (Portumna)
8 Johnny Coen (Loughrea)

23 Joseph Cooney (Sarsfields)
10 Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh)
15 Jack Coyne (Castlegar)

9 David Burke (St. Thomas’ – capt.)
14 Conor Cooney (St. Thomas’)
13 Conor Whelan (Kinvara)

Subs: 27 Sean Loftus (Turloughmore) for Grealish (ht), 25 Jason Flynn (Tommy Larkins) for Burke (58), 22 Brian Concannon (Killimordaly) for Cooney (59)

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary)

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