Wexford certainly held up their end of the bargain, but Clare's decisive victory over Dublin means that Davy Fitzgerald's men are denied direct passage to the Allianz NHL semi-finals despite Sunday's facile closing-round Division 1 Group B derby win over 14-man Carlow at sunny but chilly Chadwicks Wexford Park.

Wexford were assured of at least a spot in the quarter-finals. But victory over the Barrowsiders and a Dublin success in Clare would have squeezed the purple-and-gold straight through to the last-four.

Instead, Davy Fitzgerald's men finish second behind semi-finalists Clare, while Kilkenny and Wexford must wait to discover their opponents in the quarter-finals as Limerick-Waterford and Galway-Tipperary are scheduled to play their postponed Group A games next weekend.

The purple-and-gold opened with intent against Carlow as they breezed into a 0-07 to 0-00 lead inside 13 minutes as Liam Óg McGovern, Rory O'Connor (3), Harry Kehoe, Jack O'Connor and Aidan Nolan rose cheers among the 3,212 in attendance.

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald, right, shakes hands with Carlow manager Colm Bonnar 

Carlow clawed back within 0-07 to 1-03 when Diarmuid Byrne forced the ball to the net from a long delivery by David English in the 19th-minute for what was actually the Barrowsiders' first major of the season.

Wexford re-asserted by 0-11 to 1-03 as Diarmuid O'Keeffe (2) led the way, before a mass scuffle saw Antrim referee Colum Cunning dish out yellow-cards to two Wexford and three Carlow men.

Things had descended to quite a pedestrian pace at this stage, but Wexford dug their heels in when Rory O'Connor lashed a free low to the net in the 35th-minute to open-up a 1-13 to 1-06 half-time lead.

Wexford coasted clear by 1-17 to 1-07 before an already routine exercise for the Model County became even less taxing after Carlow were reduced to 14-men on 47 minutes when Edward Byrne picked up a second yellow-card.

Substitute Paul Morris certainly made an impact as he reeled off six unanswered points between the 44th and 54th minutes to stretch the margin to 1-22 to 1-08.

And Wexford put the tin-hat on it in rather comical style, as although Carlow defender Ger Coady blocked an initial goal-bound drive by Cathal Dunbar, Coady was unfortunate to see his attempted flicked clearance blocked into the net by Diarmuid O'Keeffe on 70 minutes.

Wexford: James Lawlor; Shane Reck, Liam Ryan, Simon Donohoe (0-1); Conal Flood (0-2), Pádraig Foley, Matthew O'Hanlon; Diarmuid O'Keeffe (1-2), Aidan Nolan (0-2); Jack O'Connor (0-3), Conor McDonald (0-1), Liam Óg McGovern (0-1); Mikey Dwyer (0-1), Harry Kehoe (0-2), Rory O'Connor (1-6, 0-5 frees).

Subs: Paul Morris (0-7, 4 frees) for R O'Connor (41); Shaun Murphy for Foley (44); Cathal Dunbar (0-1) for Kehoe (55); Seamus Casey for J O'Connor (62); Gary Molloy for McDonald (67).

Carlow: Damien Jordan; Michael Malone, Paul Doyle, Michael Doyle; Alan Corcoran, David English, Gary Bennett; Seán Whelan, Aaron Amond; Jack Kavanagh, Diarmuid Byrne (1-1), Jon Nolan; Ted Joyce (0-1), Edward Byrne, Chris Nolan (0-8, 6 frees).

Subs: John Michael Nolan (0-1) for J Kavanagh (35+2); Ciarán Whelan for D Byrne (HT); Kevin McDonald for S Whelan (46); Cathal Tracey for J Nolan (49); Ger Coady for Corcoran (52); Jason O'Neill for English (61).

Referee: Colum Cunning (Antrim).