Wexford qualified for the Leinster SFC semi-final with a 3-12 to 2-10 win over Carlow, but they had to withstand a huge second half challenge from fourteen-men before emerging with a five point victory.
Carlow, trailing by four points at the interval, hauled themselves right back into the game through a 42nd minute goal from a Simon Rea penalty. A Rea pointed free had the sides level, 3-7 to 2-10 after fifty-six minutes, but it was three Mattie Forde points in the closing minutes that sealed the model county victory.
After the opening sixteen minutes one was left with the assumption that this was going to be a runaway victory for Wexford, as they had raced into a 3-2 to 0-4 lead despite playing into the breeze.
Wexford’s opening goal arrived as early as the fourth minute when poor defending allowed midfielder David Fogarty through and he easily beat keeper John Brennan.
Carlow clawed their way back though with points from Simon Rea and Brian Carberry, but dreadful defending once again let them down as P.J. Banville and Mattie Forde struck for goals after eleven and sixteen minutes.
Carlow then hit a decent passage of play with a fine run from Mark Carpenter ending in a 21st minute goal but they still trailed 3-5 to 1-7 at the interval. And with their left half-back Richard Sinnott sent off on a double yellow card one minute into additional time a second half revival was always going to be unlikely.
Team sheets and scorers
Wexford: J. Cooper, C. Morris, P. Wallace, N. Murphy, D. Breen (0-1), D. Murphy, P. Curtis, N. Lambert, D. Fogarty (1-1), R. Barry (0-1), D. Foran, S. Cullen (0-1), P.J. Banville (1-0), P. Colfer (0-1), M. Forde (1-6, 2 frees). Subs: D. Kinsella (0-1) for Lambert (21 mins); J. D’Arcy for Morris (42); J. Hegarty for Foran (53).
Carlow: J. Brennan, C. McCarthy, B. Farrell, P. Cashin, J. Hayden, L. Murphy, R. Sinnott, P. Walsh, T. Walsh (0-1), B. Carberry (0-1), R. Walker, P. Hickey (0-2 frees), S. Rea (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-4 frees), M. Carpenter (1-0), M. Brennan. Subs: P. Kelly for Farrell (35); J. Nevin for Walker (42); W. Power for Hayden (64); J. Byrne for Hickey (64); B. Kelly for Rea (68).
Referee: J. McKee (Armagh).