HL1B: Wexford promoted with a game to spare
12 March 2017
Offaly's James Mulrooney and Aaron Maddock of Wexford
Wexford sealed top flight hurling for 2018 with a round to spare after seeing off bottom-of-the-table Offaly in a hard-fought Division 1B encounter at O'Connor Park.
It's a second successive promotion for Davy Fitzgerald who led his native Clare into Division 1A last year en route to winning the Division 1 title after a replay against Waterford. The Model County lead Limerick and Galway by two points at the top of the table, and having beaten both of their rivals already, are assured of promotion ahead of the final round of games.
Offaly, who remain point-less and now face a do-or-die clash with Kerry, didn't make it easy for the high-flying visitors and may well have got something out of the game if Mark Fanning hadn't pulled off a brilliant penalty save to deny Shane Dooley in the 49th minute. A Conor McDonald goal late in the first half handed Wexford a 1-7 to 0-8 lead at the interval after they had played against a stiff breeze, and they were never headed thereafter, despite racking up 16 wides.
McDonald top-scored with 1-6 as the winners settled with early points from David Redmond and Paul Morris. Offaly reply with four unanswered scores from Dooley (two), Sean Cleary and Stephen Quirke to take a 0-4 to 0-2 lead, but Morris edged Wexford back in front, 0-5 to 0-4, in the 17th minute.
Further points from Cleary (two) and Dooley saw the lead change hands once again, but Offaly were left to rue the concession of 1-2 in the closing stages of the half with McDonald's goal coming into the 34th minute after Aaron Maddock supplied the pass.
A Dooley free narrowed the gap at the start of the second half, but his penalty miss proved costly as the Slaneysiders closed out the game with late points from subs Aidan Nolan and David Dunne to regain their top flight status for the first time since 2011.
Wexford - M Fanning; S Donohoe, L Ryan, J Breen; D Reck, M O’Hanlon, D O’Keeffe (0-2); J O’Connor (0-1), A Maddock; D Redmond (0-1), L Chin (0-1), S Murphy; H Kehoe (0-1), C McDonald (1-6, 0-4f), P Morris (0-2). Subs: A Nolan (0-2) for A Maddock, D Dunne (0-1) for J O’Connor, J Guiney for P Morris, B Carton for D Redmond.
Offaly - J Dempsey; P Rigney, M Cleary, P Delaney; D Morkan, D Shortt, S Gardiner; S Ryan, A Treacy; J Mulrooney, C Kiely, O Kelly (0-1); S Dooley (0-10, 8f, 1'65), S Quirke (0-1), S Cleary (0-3). Subs: D King for P Delaney, E Nolan for J Mulrooney, B Conneely for S Ryan, P Geraghty for S Cleary, T Carroll for S Quirke.
Referee - C McAllister.