For the second year running, Wexford have crashed out of the All-Ireland hurling championship at the hands of Clare – the Banner men ran out easy 1-27 to 1-15 winners in the first of today's quarter-finals at Croke Park.
Goal scorer Diarmuid McMahon (1-02), Tony Griffin, Tony Carmody and Niall Gilligan (0-05 each) led the Clare scoring in a complete mismatch that would have sent even the most fervent of hurling supporters to sleep.
An angled shot from McMahon on 17 minutes helped Clare go in at the break with a 1-13 to 0-07 lead. Stephen Doyle, who failed to take advantage of two early goal opportunities, landed three frees for Wexford.
Paul Codd came off the bench to improve their chances, tallying up 0-03, and he set up McCarthy (1-01) for a 53rd-minute goal but Clare, with a plethora of scorers, were always two or three gears ahead.
The game was as good as over at the interval as Clare powered nine points clear. The classy Carmody fired over four points from play in the opening 15 minutes to confirm the whispers about his good form.
The Limerick-base garda scored the opener, flicking over Damien Fitzhenry’s crossbar, after only 12 seconds. Eoin Quigley replied for Wexford but the men from Munster hit 1-06 over the next 16 minutes to canter clear.
Seanie McMahon, Carmody (0-03), Alan Markham and Derek Quinn pilled on the pressure with a flurry of scores, while young forward Doyle held his head in his hands when he missed out on a much-needed Wexford goal.
As Clare went further ahead, Seamus Murphy’s charges, who were missing the steadying presence of former All-Star Darragh Ryan (ankle), could do little to keep in touch. Quigley, Rory Jacob and McCarthy were Wexford’s only scorers from play in the first half, whereas by half time, the Banner men had 1-10 from play.
Doyle snatched at his first goal chance, cottoning on to a loose ball. For the second in the 11th-minute, he did well enough to race clear of the cover and through on Davy Fitzgerald, but the retreating Colin Lynch managed to put him off and his kicked effort tailed meekly away to the right.
McMahon, on the other hand, held his nerve when Markham played him in down the right flank and he evaded the challenge of Keith Rossiter to arrow a shot past Fitzhenry and into the top left corner of the net.
Wexford reduced the gap to 1-09 to 0-07 with frees from Doyle and Declan Ruth, but Diarmuid and Seanie McMahon (free), Griffin and Gilligan hit the half’s closing four points to mercilessly continue Clare’s dominance.
An ankle injury meant Colin Lynch saw no action in the second half, and while Codd came on for Doyle, Clare were still in no mood to let their lead lapse. Points from Griffin (0-02) and Seanie McMahon (free) pushed them 12 points clear.
Griffin’s second point after the restart should have resulted in a goal but the Ballyea man failed to spot Markham in an unmarked position to his right.
Clare got their lead up to 13 before the influence of Codd and his fellow substitute Dessie Mythen, who landed 0-02, kicked in.
Codd hand passed through for McCarthy to hit a first time shot pass Fitzgerald from the left edge of the square and reduce the gap to 1-19 to 1-10.
But Clare bagged the next four points with Diarmuid McMahon, with a one-handed flick, and substitutes Daithi O’Connell (0-02) and Fergal Lynch rapping over scores.
There was no fight left in a disjointed Wexford side – Codd was content to pick off long range frees and both Rory Jacob and Mythen took the easy option and went for meaningless points.
For good measure, Carmody notched his fifth in the closing minutes and Barry Nugent got off the mark as Clare claimed their fourth consecutive championship win. Daly's men have now scored 9-84 since losing to Cork in May.
Clare: D Fitzgerald; G O'Grady, B Lohan, F Lohan; B O'Connell, S McMahon (capt) (0-03 (3f)), G Quinn; J Clancy, C Lynch; D McMahon (1-02), T Carmody (0-05), N Gilligan (0-05 (2f)); D Quinn (0-01), A Markham (0-02), T Griffin (0-05).
Subs used: D O'Connell (0-02) for D Quinn, D O'Rourke for Lynch (both half-time), F Lynch (0-01) for Griffin, C Plunkett for S McMahon (both 56 mins), B Nugent (0-01) for Markham (63).
Wexford: D Fitzhenry; D O'Connor, K Rossiter (capt), M Travers; R Kehoe, D Ruth (0-01 (1f)), D Lyng; R McCarthy (1-01), C Kenny; M Jacob (0-01), M Doyle, E Quigley (0-01); S Doyle (0-03 (3f)), R Jacob (0-03), T Mahon.
Subs used: P Codd (0-03 (3f)) for S Doyle (half-time), PJ Nolan for M Doyle (48 mins), D Mythen (0-02) for Quigley (51), M Jordan for Kenny (59).
Referee: Michael Haverty (Galway).