SHC quarter-final: Wexford hit back

July 28, 2007

Wexford's Darren Stamp gets in his shot despite the attentions of Tipperary's Hugh Maloney
A late goal by Wexford goalkeeper Damien Fitzhenry helped the Leinster side through to the All-Ireland semi final at the expense of Tipperary in an exhilarating contest at Croke Park. Wexford 3-10 Tipperary 1-14 Fitzhenry came up the length of the field and blasted a 20 metre free to the net in the dying minutes, which was followed by an Eoin Quigley point to ensure that Wexford advanced to the last four. The match was played in ideal conditions as for once the rain stayed away and the pitch was in fantastic condition as both sides looked to book their place in the All-Ireland semi final. Tipp hit two early wides, but Gerry Kennedy made a good catch from a long ball in by Darren Stamp. Kennedy was called into action a minute later when Michael Jacob sent a low ball across the square to his brother Rory, but the Tipp 'keeper closed him down and the ball was waved wide even though it looked as if Kennedy got the last touch. However, Rory Jacob made amends for his goal miss when he fired over a fine point on the run from 40 metres out as Wexford looked determined to put the nightmare performance of the Leinster final well and truly behind them. The Munster side responded with a point from centre forward Benny Dunne and that was followed by a Lar Corbett point after the forward made good room for himself, despite being under pressure. Wexford had a second goal opportunity when Rory McCarthy received a good ball from Stephen Nolan but the midfielder's sizzling shot was narrowly wide, much to the dismay of the Model County. Rory Jacob scored an excellent long-range point, which was cancelled out by Hugh Moloney as both team began to find their range and settle into the match after 13 minutes. Barry Lambert was denied a third Wexford goal chance following good defending by the Tipp defence and Dunne stretched the lead to 0-4 to 0-2. Nonetheless, Wexford took the lead when a long ball was sent in by Richie Keogh and Kennedy and a defender collided with Rory Jacob flicking the sliothar to the net. A good point by Darragh Hickey levelled matters and then Corbett burst through the Wexford defence and fired past Damien Fitzhenry to put three points between the sides and all this happened in a five-minute period. Fitzhenry was using the short puck out a good bit in the first half, but this was punished when Hickey pounced on a loose ball and tapped over his second of the afternoon. Kennedy just showed why he has displaced Brendan Cummins in the Tipp goals when he produced a quite amazing save from Eoin Quigley from about 20 metres out following good work by the impressive Rory Jacob. At the other end, Tipp were making the most of their chances and Hickey scored his third of the match to leave the gap at four points with about ten minutes of the half remaining. Tipp produced their trump card when Eoin Kelly was introduced for Darragh Egan, then Kennedy made another good stop from Rory Jacob at the expense of a 65' metre free, which was sent over the bar by Nolan. Once again the short Wexford puck out was punished as this time John Carroll knocked over an easy point as Tipp looked to stamp their authority on the match. Kelly took over the free taking duties from Willie Ryan but his effort from 20 metre was saved by Paul Roche. There were two minutes of additional time at the end of the first half and during that period McCarthy scored an almighty point from well inside his own half to leave the scoreline at 1-8 to 1-5. At the start of the second half. Kelly bore down on goals, but Fitzhenry showed why he is one of the best in the country for over a decade with a fine save diving to his left and knocking the sliothar out of the dangerzone. A minute later Lambert stole in behind the Tipp defence and fired past Kennedy to level matters and now we had a game on our hands as Wexford began to believe that they could cause an upset. Kelly finally got on the score sheet after he gathered a good ball from John Carroll to ease the Munster side in front once again, but it was still all to play for at this stage of the match. Substitute David 'Doc' O'Connor was introduced for Nolan and duly hit over a point that was soon followed by a Lambert point to move back in front, but a pointed Kelly free restored parity. O'Connor hit his second point from out on the wing after more good work by Rory Jacob, who was causing the Tipp defence endless problems all through the game. Points by Moloney and Hickey edged Tipp two in front with just over ten minutes remaining and this was to test Wexford's resolve. A Lambert 65 narrowed the gap to the minimum with six minutes remaining as the tension in Croke Park began to reach fever pitch amongst both sets of supporters. From inside his own half, Kelly pointed a massive free as Tipp came their noses in front. Stamp won a free after a fine catch and as Lambert was about to take the free, referee James McGrath was received some back chat and moved the ball into the centre and Fitzhenry came up to take the 20 metre free. His shot was blasted to the net to send the Slaneysiders back in front. Wexford were punished for over carrying and Kelly came out into his own half to take the free but his effort was short and Quigley made sure of the win with a fine point to send Wexford through to the last four. Wexford - D Fitzhenry (1-0 free); M Travers, K Rossitter, P Roche; R Kehoe (1-0), D Ruth, D Lyng; R McCarthy (0-1), D Stamp; E Quigley (0-1), M Jordan, S Nolan (0-2, free, '65); B Lambert (1-3, 2 frees), M Jacob, R Jacob (0-2). Subs - C Kenny for McCarthy (38), D O'Connor 0-1 for Nolan (45), P White for M Jacob (63), PJ Nolan for Jordan (49), W Doran for Nolan (70). Tipperary - G Kennedy; E Buckley, D Fanning, A Byrne; E Corcoran, C O'Mahony, S Maher; H Maloney (0-2), S Butler; J Carroll (0-1), B Dunne (0-2), D Hickey (0-4); L Corbett (1-1), D Egan, W Ryan. Subs - E Kelly (0-3, 2 frees) for Egan (27), S McGrath (0-1) for Ryan (ht), D Fitzgerald for Byrne (43), P Burke for Butler (50). Referee - J McGrath (Westmeath)

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