Veteran attacker Niall McNamee returned from injury to net the decisive 54th minute blow as Offaly edged past Wexford in Sunday's exciting Tailteann Cup preliminary round clash in Enniscorthy.

Wexford were left to curse two goal misses before half-time as McNamee played a neat one-two with Cian Donohoe before sinking the clincher as Offaly avenged last month’s Leinster championship exit to the same opposition.

McNamee and his cousin, Ruairí McNamee, had missed that clash through injury. But both were back prominent here as John Maughan made eight personnel changes – double the amount Wexford did.

While Wexford lost out, their response to their 23 point provincial mauling by Dublin was immense, but they just fell shy as Offaly now host Wicklow in a first-round proper clash next weekend.

While Wexford twice led early on through Ben Brosnan (one free), Anton Sullivan carried much of the fight for Offaly who were boosted by an eleventh minute goal from Diarmuid Egan, whose rebound went in off the underside of the crossbar after midfielder Bill Carroll had forced an initial save (1-01 to 0-02).

But, indicative of the open nature of the tie, Wexford tied on 1-2 apiece after 16 minutes when defender Dylan Furlong angled a bullet finish from the left after strong play by Alan Tobin, Kevin O'Grady and Michael Furlong.

Anton Sullivan and centre-back Johnny Moloney nudged Offaly back two points clear before the gap was again bridged after 31 minutes, through Glen Malone and Eoin Porter (1-04 each).

While Offaly once again reasserted by 1-07 to 1-05 at half-time, Wexford were unfortunate with a couple of late goaling bids – Brosnan forcing a save, while Glen Malone had his shot cleared off the 'line by Lee Pearson.

The sides traded points on the restart before Offaly pounced for their second goal – corner-back Lee Pearson getting on the end of a Niall McNamee pass to forge a 2-08 to 1-06 advantage.

But Wexford were right back in the mix at 2-09 to 2-08 when a looping delivery from Eoghan Nolan was touched off underside of the crossbar and to the net by Niall Hughes in the 49th minute.

And Hughes together with sub Mark Rossiter tied things on 2-10 apiece moments before McNamee turned creator and executioner of the key score, although Wexford were unrelenting in their gallant bid to try to force extra-time.

Offaly: Paddy Dunican; Lee Pearson (1-0), Declan Hogan, Niall Darby (0-1 free); Rory Egan, Johnny Moloney (0-1), Cian Donohoe; Bill Carroll (0-1), Jordan Hayes; Ruairí McNamee, Diarmuid Egan (1-0), Anton Sullivan (0-2); Jack Bryant, Niall McNamee (1-5, 0-3 frees), Keith O’Neill (0-1).

Subs: Cathal Flynn for Egan (HT), Conor McNamee for Bryant (48), Mark Abott for Egan (63), Kieran Dolan for Perason, inj. (70).

Wexford: Darragh Brooks; Michael Furlong, Eoin Porter (0-1), Gavin Sheehan; Páraic Hughes, Glen Malone (0-1), Dylan Furlong (1-0); Liam Coleman, Niall Hughes (1-1); Dean O’Toole (0-1), Kevin O’Grady (0-2), Alan Tobin; Seán Ryan, Eoghan Nolan (0-2), Ben Brosnan (0-3, 1 mark, 1 free).

Subs: Donal Shanley (0-1 free) for Tobin (45), Mark Rossiter (0-1) for Ryan (45), Tom Byrne for O’Toole (61), Cian Hughes for Brosnan (66), Nick Doyle for E Nolan (68).

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).