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Wexford too strong as Laois fall to 19 point defeat in Cheddar’s first game back

Photo: Paul Dargan

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Laois 0-10 Wexford 4-17
National Hurling League Round 1 

Seamas Cheddar Plunkett’s second coming as Laois manager got off to a very difficult start as his side suffered a 19 point defeat against Wexford this afternoon.

Injury time goals from Rory O’Connor and Conor Hearne probably made the margin of defeat look a little worse than it actually was – but there was no questioning that Laois were second best.

They hit 21 wides over the course of the game and went 20 minutes in the first half without a score – two things that do not tend to lead to positive results.

The wind was swirling into the corner of Wexford Park and Laois played in that general direction in the first half.

They started brightly with scores from Ross King and PJ Scully but they then began to really struggle in front of goal.

Wides and poorly turned over possession became a frequent feature of their play and Wexford made them pay down the other end.

They drew level thanks to Harry Kehoe and Conor McDonald before the former out them ahead for the first time before the water break.

And things got worse on the resumption of play as Wexford struck for two goals in quick succession.

The first came when Lee Cleere misplaced a sideline puck in a defensive area and Wexford pounced with Mikie Dwyer flicking the ball to the net.

And then moments later, a long range Jack O’Connor free caused havoc with Dwyer latching on to the loose ball to score.

Laois finally regained their scoring touch with two late PJ Scully frees but Conor Hearne and Gavin Bailey also pointed for Wexford to leave them 2-6 to 0-4.

Laois started the second half better and matched Wexford in the third quarter with three scores a piece.

PJ Scully, Paddy Purcell and Ross King all pointed but Wexford kept their side of the board ticking to leave the score 2-9 to 0-7 at the second water break.

Just before that, Wexford had the chance for a third goal when Lee Cleere was sinbinned for a foul on Rory O’Connor and Wexford were awarded a penalty.

Up stepped Lee Chin but Enda Rowland did brilliantly to deny him at point blank range.

Wexford used their man advantage well as Simon Donohue landed two more points before PJ Scully and Jack Kelly responded for Laois as we entered the final ten minutes.

And that would be as good as it got for Laois as Wexford finished the game strongly to confirm the win with a late goals from Rory O’Connor and Conor Hearne leaving 19 points in it in the end.

Up next for Laois is Dublin at home in six days time.

SCORERS – Laois: PJ Scully 0-6 (four frees, one 65), Ross King 0-2, Paddy Purcell 0-1, Jack Kelly 0-1 Wexford: Mikie Dwyer 2-0, Harry Kehoe 0-3 (one free), Conor McDonald 0-1, Conor Hearne 1-1, Gavin Bailey 0-2, Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-2, Simon Donohue 0-2, Jack O’Connor 0-1 (65), Lee Chin 0-3 (three frees), Seamus Casey 0-1 (one free), Conor Devitt 0-1, Rory O’Connor 1-0

LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Lee Cleere, Sean Downey, Donnchadh Hartnett; Jack Kelly, Podge Delaney, Ryan Mullaney; Fiachra C Fennell, Aaron Dunphy; Paddy Purcell, Ciaran Comerford, Ciaran Collier; PJ Scully, Cha Dwyer, Ross King, Subs: James Ryan for C-Fennell (blood) (11, reversed 16), James Ryan for Dunphy (28), Diarmaid Conway for Comerford (55), James Keyes for Purcell (63), Colm Stapleton for Collier (66), Conor Phelan for C-Fennell and Ciaran McEvoy for Mullaney (both 72)

WEXFORD: Seamus Casey; Damien Reck, Liam Ryan, Conor Firman; Gavin Bailey, Simon Donohoe, Conall Flood; Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Conor Hearne; Harry Kehoe, Jack O’Connor, Mikie Dwyer; David Dunne, Conor McDonald, Kevin Foley. Subs: Shane Reck for D Reck (26), Rory O’Connor for J O’Connor and Lee Chin for Kehoe (both 45), Liam Og McGovern for McDonald (49), Aidan Nolan for Dwyer (57), Matthew O’Hanlon for Hearne and Conor Devitt for Dunne (both 66)

REFEREE: Thomas Walsh

SEE ALSO – Laois expat commended for fantastic deed by Vicky Phelan

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.