Rory O'Connor scored a dramatic late winner as Wexford piled the pressure on Clare with a 2-19 to 1-21 comeback victory at Cusack Park in Ennis.
Brian Lohan’s men suffered a shock defeat away to Antrim last weekend, in their opening Allianz League Division 1 National Hurling fixture. And this was another huge set-back as they were caught by a late Wexford rally as both teams finished with 14 men.
Clare’s Liam Corry and Matthew O’Hanlon were sent-off in the closing stages but goals from Simon Donohoe and Lee Chin sealed a dramatic win for the visitors.
Clare started fast and Tony Kelly continued his fine scoring exploits with a pointed free after just a minute of action.
Chin was a late inclusion in the Wexford starting 15, and he fired wide with his first attempt at goal, before David Fitzgerald doubled Clare's advantage.
But it was back and forth between Kelly and Chin for much of the opening quarter, the Faythe Harriers clubman scored Wexford’s first point in the fifth minute. And while Clare surged into 0-05 to 0-02 lead through points from Mark Rodgers, Cathal Malone and Kelly, Chin kept Wexford in touch.
But Chin missed a couple of crucial frees in the second quarter with the returning Mark Fanning this time proving to be Wexford’s saviour as he saved a goal-bound effort from Aaron Shanagher. Clare took a 0-6 to 0-3 lead into the first water break.
Clare continued in the ascendency after that and a couple of efforts from Aidan McCarthy and Shanagher pushed them five points in front. But Kelly departed with a leg injury shortly before the half-hour and Wexford rallied.
Points from Conal Flood, David Dunne and Rory O’Connor, who was now taking the frees, ensured they only trailed by two heading deep into added-time.
But Shanagher fielded a long delivery from Eibhear Quilligan and was fouled going through on goal. A penalty resulted as Joe O'Connor was sent to the sin-bin. McCarthy blasted past Fanning into the Wexford goal.
Chin was back on placed-ball duty after half-time and he quickly sent over a 65 but he missed another free, and Rory O’Connor was given the responsibility again.
He scored a free in the 51st minute to reduce the arrears to 1-16 to 0-12. Meanwhile, McCarthy continued to thrive, he scored three times to keep Clare eight points clear. Shane Reck’s smart score down the right meant Wexford trailed 1-17 to 0-13 at the second water break.
Shanagher scored again on the resumption and substitute Shane Meehan added another but Wexford caught fire after Corry’s straight red card in the 57th minute.
Gavin Bailey started the comeback. Then David Dunne set up Donohoe for a tonic goal with five minutes of normal time remaining.
Clare were rattled and moments later Rory O’Connor played Chin through, and he tagged on a second Wexford goal, low past Quilligan. O’Hanlon was sent off after a second yellow but Wexford were flying.
McCarthy finished with 1-08 and looked set to guide Clare to victory only for Rory O’Connor to score the winner from a free from out on the left in the 74th minute.
Wexford: Mark Fanning; Shane Reck (0-01), Joe O’Connor, Simon Donohoe (1-00); Kevin Foley; Gavin Bailey (0-01), Matthew O’Hanlon, Conal Flood (0-01); Diarmuid O’Keeffe (0-01), Liam Óg McGovern (0-01); Rory O’Connor (0-06, 0-04f), Lee Chin (1-05, 0-03f, 0-01 65), Aidan Nolan; David Dunne (0-03), Mikie Dwyer.
Substitutes: Conor Firman for Donohoe (13, temp), Donohoe for Firman (17), Jack O’Connor for Joe O’Connor (46), Conor Devitt for Dwyer (51), Conor Hearne for Nolan (51), Harry Kehoe for Dunne (71).
Clare: Eibhear Quilligan; Rory Hayes, Conor Cleary, Liam Corry; Diarmuid Ryan, John Conlon, Jack Browne; Paidí Fitzpatrick, Tony Kelly (0-03f); Cathal Malone (0-03), Ian Galvin (0-01), David Fitzgerald (0-01); Aaron Shanagher (0-03), Aidan McCarthy (1-08, 1-00 pen, 0-05f, 0-01 65), Mark Rodgers (0-01).
Substitutes: Shane Meehan (0-01) for Kelly (28, inj), Colin Guilfoyle for Rodgers (63), Ryan Taylor for Galvin (63), Shane Golden for Fitzpatrick (69).Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).