Allianz Hurling League Division 1 – Wexford 1-16 Cork 1-15

Fire in the Yellow Bellies reels in Cork

Wexford 1-16 Cork 1-15

By Michael Moynihan for the Irish Examiner web site

Monday, April 04, 2011

A TALE of two halves in Wexford Park yesterday — the best of times for Wexford and the worst for Cork, as the Slaneysiders overturned an eight-point deficit to storm to victory. “There have been a lot of post mortems on Wexford hurling in the last week or 10 days,” said Wexford manager Colm Bonnar afterwards. “But I felt we’d made steady improvement. In the last 10 years, it’s probably a long time since a Wexford team scored an average of 19, 20 points as we’ve done but nobody gave us credit for those improvements. “I was confident we could score 1-16, 1-17, before the game, though obviously Cork getting only one goal kept us in it.”

Bonnar was right. Though Cork bossed proceedings from the start, they didn’t punish Wexford when the home side were under severe pressure early on. Cork full-forward Michael Cussen’s first-minute shot might have yielded a goal, for instance, but his shot went just over the bar. Wexford’s deployment of full-forward Harry Kehoe to strengthen their midfield didn’t help; it meant ball after ball went to Cork’s free man, full-back Eoin Dillon, and the home side were under constant pressure, 0-5 to 0-1 down after 10 minutes.

On 16 minutes, Wexford’s Jim Berry hit the post from a free and Rory Jacob engineered a shot from the rebound that Cork keeper Anthony Nash turned away with the help of the crossbar: that was as good as it got for Wexford in the first half. Ten minutes later the Leesiders, already four points up, had a good goal from Cathal Naughton after Brian Murphy and Tom Kenny combined well: 1-8 to 0-4, and Ben O’Connor added a point seconds later. Berry gave the scoreboard a more respectable look by half-time with three late frees, making it 1-9 to 0-7 at the half. “We knew we could get back into it,” said Bonnar. “We felt we were in the game, there was a strong breeze and we felt we could turn it around.”

They did. Within five minutes of the resumption a re-energised Wexford were ahead. Points from PJ Nolan Paul Roche (a 65 and a free from his own half) and Berry were augmented by a soft goal — Nash fumbled a high ball and PJ Banville swept it home. Wexford smelt a victory while Cork, disappointingly for manager Denis Walsh, failed to respond. “The game was there for us, we were in cruise control,” said Walsh. “We weren’t clinical enough up front. We talked about that at half-time, about not leaving them back into it, because if that happened only one team would win it.”

While Cork struggled to win possession up front, Roche and Daniel Redmond helped drive the home side on and another long-range free from Roche had Wexford three ahead approaching injury time. Ben O’Connor — described as a “colossus” by his manager after the game — cut the gap to one point with two frees, but Wexford hung on. “I’m disappointed with myself more than anything else,” said Cork boss Denis Walsh at the final whistle. “Rather than blaming the players I’d look at whether we made too many changes, I didn’t think we did. “The very first shot (Cussen’s) should have been under rather than over the bar, but we lost our shape. When it came to a fight we had lost our shape and they kept theirs.”

His opposite number was realistic about Wexford’s chances of staying in Division 1 with a win over the All-Ireland champions in their last game. “Obviously with Tipp’s win over Galway, they’ll be playing for a place in the league final,” said Bonnar. “It’ll be a hell of a place to go looking for a point, Offaly are the same, but we feel the league has done a lot for the lads, it’s great preparation. It’s great to finish our games in Wexford Park with a win, anyway.” Denis Walsh, meanwhile, said he’d be focusing on his side’s league finale. “I’ve found out a bit more about some fellas and it mightn’t be all positive,” said Walsh. “We’re out of the league, realistically, but we’ll be targeting the Dublin game.”

Scorers for Wexford: P Roche (3fs, 1 65), J Berry (4fs) 0-4 each, PJ Banville 1-0, PJ Nolan 0-3, N Kirwan (1f), D Redmond 0-2 each, R Jacob 0-1.

Scorers for Cork: B O’Connor 0-9 (8f), C Naughton 1-0, T Kenny, B Murphy, B Cooper, P O’Sullivan, M Cussen, P Horgan 0-1 each.

Subs for Wexford: G Sinnott for W. Doran (blood 29-35), B Doyle for Doran (ht); N Kirwan for J Berry (58), T Mahon for Banville (63), C Farrell for E Quigley (70), M Jacob for L Prendergast (70).

Subs for Cork: C McCarthy for Horgan (51), P Cronin for C O’Sullivan (53), K Murphy for Cussen (63).

Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)


Model show signs of life

WEXFORD 1-16 CORK 1-15


By Vincent Hogan for the Irish Independent newspaper

A CORPSE climbed off a slab in Wexford Park yesterday to highlight how the more we see in this league, maybe the less we understand. It might amount to but a brief discharge from Purgatory for Wexford hurlers, but, in the week one of their favourite sons warned of a possible future pursuing the Christy Ring Cup, this defeat of Ringy’s beloved blood and bandages had the small crowd whooping wild approval. “Paper-talk,” was how Colm Bonnar dismissed Liam Dunne’s worried prophesy, while yet acknowledging that Wexford had “a huge mountain to climb” if they are to retain Division 1 status. But they still, at least, have the gift of rescue in their hands and, for Bonnar, that was sufficient harvest. Trailing 0-7 to 1-9 at the interval, they goaled early in the second-half and – thereafter – out-gunned Cork, essentially, by force of will.

“There’s been a lot of post-mortems for Wexford hurling over the last week or two” said the Cashel man. “But we knew we’d made steady, steady improvement in this league, even if nobody was giving us any credit for it. I just feel people are very quick to jump on a bandwagon.” They must now play Tipperary in next weekend’s final round of matches and, for all the kudos coming their way last night, defeat to the All-Ireland champions will flush them back down to what Bonner calls “the sheltered life” of Division 2 hurling. A life they know to be ruinous. That said, Wexford hurling may not quite be in need of a wire brush and carbolic soap just yet. For the spirit of men like Paul Roche, Keith Rossiter and Darren Stamp against occasionally nonchalant opposition spoke of a warrior mentality that Cork manager Denis Walsh could only lament had been missing in his troops.

The visitors’ attack, particularly, misfired and only Ben O’Connor and Paudie O’Sullivan escaped their manager’s censure afterwards for what amounted to an exercise in surrender. Michael Cussen had a goal chance in the opening seconds, but blazed the wrong side of the crossbar and, though Cork led 0-5 to 0-1 after nine minutes, they were never able to put sufficient daylight into the arithmetic to subdue the possibility of uprising. Roche, particularly, would prove magnificent, endlessly mopping up ‘dirty’ ball and contributing a succession of points from frees deep in his own half. If the spirit of Vinegar Hill is alive today, the Oulart man is its most obvious expression. That said, Cathal Naughton’s welltaken 28th-minute goal seemed to have edged Cork into a comfortable position by half-time, albeit the bulk of their scores were coming from Ben O’Connor’s dead-ball accuracy.

In the dressing-room, Walsh warned against complacency. But the taps were already running. “We knew if we left them in it, there was only going to be one winner” he said afterwards. “We’d been in cruise control, but we still had to drive on. And we didn’t do that. When it came to a fight, we lost our shape. “I’m disappointed with myself more than anything else to be honest. Did we make too many changes? I don’t think so. Like, four of our starting forwards you’d expect to be playing Championship hurling. I found out a bit more about certain fellas today and it mightn’t be all positive.” Within seven minutes of the resumption, Wexford – incredibly – were leading. Having huffed and puffed through the first-half with a crowded midfield and two-man full-forward line – endless home deliveries dropping into the grateful hand of Cork full-back, Eoin Dillon – they reverted to orthodoxy and reaped an immediate dividend.

Stephen Banville moved to the edge of the ‘square’ and, having been in Ronan Curran’s pocket on the halfline, now suddenly came alive. He’d already tested Anthony Nash with a snap-shot from 20 yards when the Cork goalkeeper failed to deal with an incoming missile in the 40th minute and, at maybe the third attempt, Banville forced the sliotar home. Roche followed up with a free from 90 metres and, when Dillon fouled Banville, Jim Berry edged Wexford in front for the first time. From there to the end, it became less a hurling game than an exploration of manhood and a few Cork players didn’t impress with their response.


Wexford, by contrast, were finding attacking inspiration in men like David Redmond, the excellent PJ Nolan and – on his introduction – Nicky Kirwan. They eased three points clear with as many minutes remaining, only for two O’Connor frees to narrow it to the minimum. And so it ended in a frenzy of shrieks and whistles, poor, put-upon Wexford somehow holding on. “We needed the win, because the longer we went without one, the more pressure was coming on” admitted Bonnar. “But anyone who has seen us in our last four games would know that we’ve been averaging 19 or 20 points. We knew we were well capable of this. “That said, Tipp beat Galway easily today, so they’ll be playing us now to get to a league final. It’s going to be a hell of a place to go in and try to look for two points.” Still, wreaths might be a bit premature.

Man of the Match: Paul Roche (Wexford)

SCORERS – Wexford: P Roche 0-4 (3f, 1 ‘65’), J Berry 0-4f, PJ Nolan 0-3, S Banville 1-0, D Redmond 0-2, N Kirwan 0-2 (1f), R Jacob 0-1. Cork: B O’Connor 0-9 (8f), C Naughton 1-0, B Murphy, T Kenny, B Cooper, P O’Sullivan, M Cussen, P Horgan 0-1 each.

WEXFORD: N Breen 7; P Roche 9, M O’Hanlon 8, K Rossiter 8; L Prendergast 7, D Stamp 8, C Kenny 7; D Redmond 7, E Quigley 6; PJ Nolan 8, W Doran 6, S Banville 6; R Jacob 7, H Kehoe 6, J Berry 6.

Subs: B Doyle 7 for Doran (h-t), N Kirwan 7 for Berry (58), T Waters for Banville (63), C Farrell for Quigley (70), M Jacob for Kehoe (71).

CORK: A Nash 7; S O’Neill 7, E Dillon 7, C O’Sullivan 7; R Curran 9, M Ellis 7, J Nagle 8; B Murphy 7, T Kenny 7; B O’Connor 8, B Cooper 6, C Naughton 6; P O’Sullivan 7, M Cussen 6, P Horgan 6.

Subs: C McCarthy 7 for Horgan (50), P Cronin 7 for C O’Sullivan (55), K Murphy for Cussen (61).

REF – A Kelly (Galway)


Wexford 1-16 Cork 1-15

From the web site

Wexford came back brilliantly to beat Cork in the second half of their Allianz National Hurling League clash in Wexford Park on Sunday, leaving them with a good chance of avoiding relegation going into the final weekend. Denis Walsh’s Cork led by five points at the break and Wexford’s status in the top division was looking very precarious but they came out fighting in the second half, and got in front shortly after Stephen Banville’s goal. It was very tight from then on but the Model Men’s greater desire saw them come good in the end to take what could prove to be a crucial victory.

Wexford could have scored a goal early on when Jim Berry’s ball troubled Anthony Nash and fell to Harry Kehoe, whose shot was then saved by the Cork keeper. Cork survived the scare to race into an early lead. Brian Murphy and PJ Nolan exchanged points before Ben O’Connor popped over a few frees. As well as O’Connor’s shooting, Michael Cussen was causing problems for the Wexford full-back line with his rangy running and Paudie O’Sullivan was also dangerous. O’Connor had four points to his name by the 22nd minute as Cork led 0-7 to 0-3. Berry and O’Connor traded further scores and then, shortly before half-time, Cathal Naughton rattled to the net to put Cork well in control. The move started when Tom Kenny did well to win possession before racing towards goal and laying off to Newtownshandrum clubman Naughton, who came in from the left and finished well. The goal, coupled with O’Connor’s excellent finishing, made it 1-9 to 0-7 at half-time.

Colm Bonnar obviously laid down the consequences of a defeat to his players well during the interval as they looked like a different team after the restart. Banville’s goal after a Nash fumble, alongside points from Paul Nolan and three majestic scores from Paul Roche suddenly had Wexford in front. Roche’s points had in particular been inspirational, with two flying over from around 100 metres out. This left it Wexford 1-11 to Cork’s 1-10 and it was tit for tat for most of the second half until a run of three Wexford points effectively settled the game.

Nicky Kirwan hit two and Roche knocked over another great score to set the home side up for the win. Two late frees from Ben O’Connor took his personal tally for the day to 0-10 but Wexford held on for a win which showed they do indeed possess that special quality of true grit. They will need to show more of it if they want to avoid relegation though, with a visit to Tipperary in the final round ahead of them, with the Premier having given the performance of the League so far when they annihilated Galway on Sunday.