Tailteann Cup Round 2
Chadwicks Weford Park
Wexford 0-14 Antrim 2-15
Pics by Noel Reddy
Wexford must be sick of the sight of Antrim’s Ruairi McCann. If they’re not they should be as the big Aghagallon full-forward added two goals to his recent haul against the Leinster men.
In 2020 he hit two against today’s opponents in a NFL Division 4 game in Glenavy and in 2019 he rattled the net in Wexford Park in the same competition and he continued that impressive form today as Antrim came from behind to move top of the group and have qualified for the quarter-finals with one round remaining
McCann struck with two second half goals within two minutes to inspire Antrim to an eventual comfortable seven point victory but it didn’t appear to be heading that way for much of the opening half.
Wexford had shown enough through the opening period, with some splendid flowing football, to suggest they were capable of backing up their draw with Fermanagh, but they were total eclipsed through the second period by a now dominant Antrim outfit, who restricted the home side to just three second half points.
Wexford had been the better of the two sides through the opening twenty minutes at the end of which they led by five points, 0-9 to 0-4, but it was Antrim who finished the half strongest with some well taken scores, giving them the confidence to go on and dominate the second period.
Liam Coleman and Paraic Hughes gave the home side the ideal start with two points inside the opening three minutes. They went on to add further points through Hughes, Mark Rossiter and Kevin O’Grady, while Antrim managed two points in between from Marc Jordan and Dominic McEnhill to remain in touch.
Wexford then had a dominant spell with Michael Furlong, Rossiter and O’Grady adding further points and by the twentieth minute they had stretched into a 0-9 to 0-4 lead.
Antrim began to assert themselves at Mid-field with Conor Stewart dominating and finished the half with points from a Michael Byrne ‘45’ and a free from the Antrim keeper. Patrick Finnegan added another and two from McEnhill reduced the deficit to two at the half way stage.
The visitors carried that momentum into a second half which they dominated and they struck with the game’s opening goal in the 7th minute when Patrick Finnegan sent a searching delivery towards the Wexford goal which was fielded by full-forward Ruairi McCann who rifled a tremendous shot to the net from twelve metres.
Before Wexford had a chance to recover the Aghagallon man struck with a second as he got on the end of a delightful move to beat keeper Darragh Brooks with a well-placed shot to the corner of the net, giving his side a 2-9 to 0-11 lead.
Antrim shut up shop in defence after this and Wexford had to wait until the forty-seventh minute for their opening second half score, a Ben Brosnan point, but it was evident they faced a real struggle to haul themselves back into contention.
The pressure continued from the visitors and it was only excellent saves from keeper Brooks that denied them further goals, but in the end they have managed to put back to back victories together and have qualified for the quarter finals with one game remaining.
That game is against Fermanagh, who beat Leitrim in Carrick on Shannon and will be played at a neutral venue.
Wexford: D Brooks (1f, 1, 45), M Furlong, P Hughes, K O’Grady, B Brownan (1f), M Rossiter 0-2 each; L Coleman, M Rossitger 0-1 each.
Antrim: R McCann 2-0; D McEnhill (5f) 0-8; M Byrne (2f, 2, 45s) 0-4; P Finnegan 0-2; M Jordan 0-1.
Wexford: D Brooks, B Molloy, P Hughes, M Furlong; E Porer, G Malone, C Walsh; L Coleman, N Hughes; C Carty, E Nolan, K O’Grady; R Brooks, M Rossiter, B Brosnan. Subs: R Waters for P Hughes (inj. 11); J Tubritt for R Brooks (49), C Kinbsella for Brosnan (49), D Lyons for Walsh (54), S Nolan for Waters (61).
Antrim: M Byrne; R Boyle, P Healy, P McCormick; P McBride, J Finnegan, D McAleese; C Hynds, C Stewart; P Finnegan, A Loughran, R McCann; M Jordan, R McCann (St. Mary’s), D McEnhill. Subs: D Lynch for Healy (58), O Eastwood for Loughran (65), O Doherty for Finnegan (66), C Higgins for Jordan (69).
Referee: D Marnane (Cork)