The combination of Brendan Murphy and Paul Broderick were hugely influential as Carlow booked a date with the All Ireland Champions Dublin, with their first victory in the Leinster Championship since 2011 over a hugely disappointing Wexford side.
Carlow had the advantage of the wind in the first half but it was Wexford who stormed into a three-point lead with two Ciaran Lyng frees and a point from corner back Michael Furlong. However, the danger signs were there for Wexford as Eoghan Ruth should have converted his goal chance to level for Carlow.
The midfield dual of Daithi Waters and Brendan Murphy was an interesting talking point heading into the game as the feeling whoever could win that dual would go far to improve their team’s chances of winning. In the opening 15 minutes there was nothing between the star midfielders as both were given as good as they got. However, when Daithi Waters was black carded for a foul on Murphy, the midfield battle began to be dominated by Carlow as they edged their way back into the game. Things got worse for Wexford when Waters midfield partner Colm Kehoe was stretchered off with a hamstring injury. Halfway through the first half, Wexford lead 5-3 after a Ben Brosnan free. The impressive Paul Broderick and Sean Gannon both pointed for Carlow to level the game. Both sides would trade points for the remainder of the half with the scores level at 8 points apiece.
Wexford retook the lead with a Ben Brosnan free at the restart of play but the lead was only short lived as Sean Gannon sent Danny Moran in on goal and he blasted high to the net past Conor Swaine for a 1-8 to 0-9 lead. Lyng then converted a free for Wexford but then Carlow stretched the lead to three with points from Paul Broderick from a free and Gary Kelly from play. Things then got worse for Wexford when Eoghan Nolan was sent off 25 minutes from the end for a second yellow card.
Depleted of their starting midfield and now down to 14, Wexford faced an uphill battle but were given a way back into the game when PJ Banville scrambled home a goal after the rebound from Carlow goalie Kearney, 1-12 to 1-11. Carlow regained their composure and knocked over the next two points from Broderick and Murphy to stretch the lead to a goal. In a game where there was plenty of twists and turns, yet another was about to happen as Naomhan Rositer took advantage of some poor Carlow defending to finish from close range to level the sides. Carlow were not be outdone on this day and led 1-16 to 2-12 with ten minutes remaining. Even with the sending off key forward Paul Broderick with five minutes remaining was not going to stop Carlow. Man of the Match Brendan Murphy sealed Carlow victory with a late goal to win on a score line of 2-17 to 2-13.
Carlow were full credit for their victory and even though they have the daunting task of facing the All Ireland champions Dublin, it should be something that they should look forward to as Carlow have not had many days like these to look forward to in recent years. There are problems in Wexford. They have quality forwards but there build up play is dreadful and were turned over far too many times and they look very vulnerable at the back especially when teams counter attack at them. Unless improvements are made it will be a short summer for Banty’s Boys.
Carlow: C Kearney; C Crowley, S Redmond, C Lawlor; D Moran (1-00), D St Ledger, G Kelly (0-01); B Murphy (1-02), S Murphy; E Ruth, D Foley (c) (0-02), A Kelly (0-01); P Broderick (0-10, 0-05f), C Moran, J Murphy.
Subs: S Gannon (0-01) for Moran (23 mins), BJ Molloy for Crowley (35+3), M Rennick for Moran (53), J Clarke for Ruth (53), K Nolan for J Murphy (64), S Clarke for G Kelly (65),
Wexford: C Swaine; M Furlong (0-01), N Rossiter (1-00), J Rossiter; A Flynn (0-01), J Wadding, B Malone; D Waters (c), C Kehoe; K O’Grady, B Brosnan (0-05, 0-05f), E Nolan; C Lyng (0-05, 0-05f), J Tubritt, PJ Banville (1-01).
Subs: N Hughes for Waters (19 mins, black), J Lacey for Kehoe (27), R Deveraux for J Rossiter (52), P Curtis for Tubritt (57), C Carty for Furlong (67), D Shanley for Flynn (68).
Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).