Wexford could not have asked for a sterner examination as it took two late points to shake off a gallant Carlow challenge in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship Qualifier Phase 1 at Wexford Park with a 2-16 to 0-20 win.
Carlow led four points at the break and were ahead for long period of this dramatic encounter.
However, Wexford manager Liam Dunne began to empty his bench as the game looked like slipping away and sub David Redmond crashed home 58th minute goal which gave the Model men the chance to grind out the win.
When these two sides met in last year's qualifiers, it was Wexford who emerged with a comfortable 10-point victory margin.
Wexford were prepared for sterner opposition on this occasion particularly as former manager John Meyler was at the helm of Barrowside affairs.
On a bright, sunny evening, it was Carlow who played all the quality hurling with the assistance of a slight breeze.
Stepping up to the challenge they played with composure and skill, so much so that Wexford manager Liam Dunne was becoming quite agitated on the sideline.
Carlow posted the opening point inside the first minute through a David English free out of midfield.
English went on to play no small part in a fine opening half as he controlled midfield along with Jack Kavanagh.
Wexford responded with points from Jack Guiney and Rory Jacob, but by the 14th minute Carlow had crept into a 0-05 to 0-02 lead.
When it looked as if Carlow were about to stretch away, Wexford struck for the games opening goal.
A long crossfield ball from Jack Guiney was kept in play by corner-forward Padge Doran, who had considerable work to do, but having shook off his marker blaze a great ball from 14 metres, from an acute angle high into the corner of the net, to bring the sides level, 0-05 to 1-02.
Scores from John Michael Nolan, Craig Doyle and a long Jack Kavanagh effort, had Carlow back in front, leading 0-08 to 1-02, after 20 minutes.
English and Andrew Gaule exchanged points with Jack Guiney, two, one free, but it was the accurate English who stretched Carlow into a 0-13 to 1-04 lead, before Guiney responded with two pointed frees, approaching the break, to leave the Barrowsiders leading 0-13 to 1-06 at the interval.
Once again it was Carlow who stepped up to the challenge on the resumption.
After Garrett Sinnott and David English exchanged points, it was the visitors who played the quality hurling, as they responded with Eddie Byrne and David English points.
Redmond's goal with 12 minutes remaining put Wexford in front by a point.
When points from Jacob and a Guiney free extended the lead, it looked as if the home side were about to pull away, but once again Carlow responded to the challenge bouncing back with excellent points from David English, two frees, and Sean Murphy, to tie the sides, 2-14 to 0-20 with five minutes remaining.
Wexford made one final bid for victory as wing-back Ciaran Kenny sent over a point out of midfield, with Guiney pointing a free two minutes from end, which proved sufficient to edge them to a narrow victory over a gallant Carlow outfit.
Wexford: M Fanning; E Moore, T Waters, B Kenny; R Kehoe, M O'Regan, C Kenny (0-1); H Kehoe, Shaun Murphy; J Guiney (0-10, 9f), G Sinnott (0-1), L Chin; P Morris, R Jacob (0-2), P Doran (1-0). Subs:D Redmond (1-0) for Murphy (31 mins); J Tonks for Regan (41); E Quigley (0-1) for H Kehoe (42); G Moore for Morris (57); C O'Shaughnessy for Chin (62)
Carlow: F Foley; C McCabe, E Nolan, H P Byrne; D Byrne, R Coady (0-1), E Coady; J Kavanagh (0-1), D English (0-10, 9f); E Byrne (0-1), M Brennan (0-1), S Murphy (0-1); C Doyle (0-2), J M Nolan (0-2), A Gaule (0-1).
Subs: M Kavanagh for Gaule (41); J Doyle for Nolan (55).
Referee: A Kelly (Galway).
Highlights and analysis of all the weekend’s action on The Sunday Game from 21:00 on Sunday 30 June on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only). Expert and fan reaction on Take Your Point from 18:00 on Sunday 30 June on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).