Galway 0-20 Wexford 0-11
Reporting by Marisa Kennedy in Croke Park
Galway will take on Kilkenny in the Electric Ireland minor hurling final in a replay of last year’s decider after a nine-point win over Wexford in Croke Park.
The game never fully ignited as a contest as Wexford failed to score until the 18th minute while Galway maintained their healthy lead through an exhibition of free taking from the excellent Seán McDonagh who finished the day on 12 points.
Alex Connaire opened the scoring before Sean McDonagh punished the Leinster champions for a poor clearance. Solid defending by Wexford saw them deny Connaire a goal after good work from Tiernan Killeen but the Galway forward line continued to cause huge issues for Wexford, resulting in two pointed frees from McDonagh and a yellow card for full-back, Kyle Scallan.
Following their four-week break since the Leinster final, Wexford struggled to reach the championship pace of the game while they also registered four wides inside the opening 10 minutes, two from placed balls. McDonagh had no such issues as he pointed a long-range effort to stretch Galway’s lead to five points.
Wexford seemed hesitant to take their scores but they were also hugely pressured by the Galway defence, including the impressive John Cooney who was a late call-up to the starting side. Eventually, David Cantwell got them off the mark in the 18th minute but his effort was soon cancelled out by another McDonagh free. Galway had another opportunity to widen their advantage when Shane Morgan produced a scintillating run through the middle before sending a superb pass to Greg Thomas who saw his effort blocked down.
Connaire was in terrific form as he dominated play in the middle third and together with Killeen, they stretched Galway’s lead to seven points with two minutes left in the half. The irrepressible McDonagh and AJ Redmond swapped frees to leave the half-time score standing at 0-10 to 0-3.
The second half began in a similar fashion as McDonagh and Redmond both knocked over scores but the swirling wind did little to curb Galway’s attack as Colm Cunningham and the Mountbellow sharpshooter notched over extra scores to leave the gap at nine points. Galway were dealt a major blow when captain, Ian McGlynn, received a straight red for an off-the-ball incident in the 38th minute. Rattled, Galway sent three balls wide but were soon settled back down through substitute, Gavin Lee.
Wexford’s first goal opportunity came in the 44th minute when a long-range effort was deflected off the post and Michael Egan was forced to make a superb body save to deny David Cantwell. Redmond, Luke Kavanagh and Cantwell kept the scoreboard ticking over for Wexford but they let another goal opportunity slip through their hands when substitute, Cian Byrne, failed to find Cantwell with his final pass in front of goal. Richie Lawlor had another chance minutes later but had to settle for a point.
The game had long since petered out as a contest as Paddy Cummins and McDonagh registered late points for the Tribesmen. In the dying seconds of the game, a brawl broke out behind the Galway goals after Byrne hit the side netting, resulting in red cards for Wexford’s Kyle Scallan and Cian Molloy while Galway will also sweating on the condition of Shane Morgan who was stretchered off the field.
Galway: Michael Egan; John Cooney, Eoin Lawless, Adam Nolan; Enda Collins, Ian McGlynn, Christy Brennan; Liam Leen, Alex Connaire (0-2); Colm Cunningham (0-1), Sean McDonagh (0-12, 9f), Tiernan Killeen (0-2); Ruben Davitt, Shane Morgan, Greg Thomas (0-1).
Replacements: Gavin Lee (0-1) for Davitt (40), Sean O’Hanlon for Cunningham (47), Paddy Cummins (0-1) for Leen (50), Eanna Davoren for Collins (53).
Wexford: Cian Byrne; Dylan Whelan, Kyle Scallan, Joe Conroy; Justin Moran, Cian Molloy, David Codd; Jack Kirwan, Luke Kavanagh (0-1); Josh Shiel (0-1), Dylan O’Neill, Paddy Whitty; AJ Redmond (0-5, 5f), Richie Lawlor (0-1), David Cantwell (0-2).
Replacements: Cian Byrne (0-1, 1f) for O’Neill (HT), Cian Browne for Whitty (HT), Conor Foley for Sheil (46), Diarmuid O’Leary for Kirwan (47), Oisin Pepper for Redmond (56)