Veteran sharpshooter Ben Brosnan unleashed his goalscoring power on a graceful Offaly side as he inspired Wexford to a dramatic but deserved victory in this entertaining fixture played at Chadwicks Wexford Park.
34-year-old Brosnan inspired his younger colleagues with a dazzling attacking display that produced a 5-1 career tally, his 53rd-minute goal a clinical finish that gave the Model Men a 1-1 lead -12 to 1-7. , having fallen four points adrift early in the second half.
Brosnan was clearly elated after the game as the serving-heavy forward tried to pick up the win engineered by young Wexford boss Shane Roche.
“We don’t have many days like this. I love playing for Wexford, I’ve been playing since 2008, but these are the days you dream of,” Brosnan reflected.
“I’ve had a devastating time with an injury, a recurring hamstring problem. I missed last year’s game with Dublin, but now I’m looking forward to the Dubs this Saturday night here at Wexford Park.
“Look, this is a young side. We may not have had the best of the National Leagues, but there is tremendous potential in this team. We have a lot of great players on the way, so for the young players to play in Dublin it will be a wonderful experience.”
Offaly entered the match as 1/5 favourites, but manager John Maughan later insisted his charges were taking nothing for granted and said Faithful’s men were expecting a big challenge from their hosts.
“I wasn’t surprised one bit with Wexford. I had seen them, they are well organized defensively and play a fast attacking game. There is no doubt that they were the best team of the day. We had our injury problems, but we don’t offer that as an excuse: Wexford deserved the win.
Wexford fired up from the start despite playing against the wind, leading 0-2 to 0-1 after five minutes through two points from Brosnan, with Offaly’s goalkeeper Paddy Dunican signaling a free kick down the middle. .
The visitors picked up the pace with three unanswered points through free Bernard Allen, Mark Abbott and Johnny Moloney to move up two points (0-4 to 0-2) after 12 minutes, but the teams continued to exchange points as Mark Rossiter and Bill Carroll traded late points to leave Faithfull County with a narrow lead (0-6 to 0-5) at the interval.
At the restart, Offaly hit the home team with an early second-half onslaught that saw substitute Lee Pearson score a goal in the 39th minute, leaving them 1-7 to 0-6 ahead. However, it was Wexford who ran into a real purple stain soon after.
Brosnan led the way kicking three straight points, and coupled with points from Eoghan Nolan and Martin O’Connor, the Slaneysiders took a 0-11 to 1-7 lead as the fourth quarter approached.
The decisive moment came in the 58th minute when after a sweeping play from deep in their own defense with the ball traveling through many hands before Brosnan superbly finished with a rough shot into the net.
This gave Roche’s charges a crucial five-point lead (1-12 to 1-7), and while Offaly put in a lot of effort to mount a determined rally in the final 10 minutes, Wexford kept his composure admirably to secure his quarter-final match with Dublin. at Wexford Park on Saturday (6.30am).
Wexford: B Brosnan 1-5 (3fs); G Malone (1f), E Nolan (1m) 0-2 each; D Brooks (f), M O’Connor, P Hughes, K O’Grady (f), M Rossiter, T Byrne 0-1 each.
Remains: P Dunican 0-4fs; L Pearson 1-0; B Carroll, B Allen (1f) 0-2 apiece; J Moloney (f), M Abbott, D Hyland (f), J O’Connor 0-1 each.
WEXFORD- D Brooks 7; L O’Connor 7, E Porter 7, M O’Connor 7; P Hughes 7, G Malone 7, D Furlong 7; N Hughes 7, L Coleman 7; A Tobin 7, D Shanley 7, K O’Grady 7; M Rossiter 7, E Nolan 7, B Brosnan 9. Substitutes: R Brooks 6 for Nolan (60), T Byrne 7 for Rossiter (60), D O’Toole 6 for Shanley (63), S Ryan 6 for Tobin (73 ).
OFFICIALS – P Duncan 7; D Hogan 6, J Lalor 7, K Dolan 7; C Doyle 5, D Dempsey 7, N Darby 6; J Hayes 7, J Moloney 7; D Hyland 6, B Carroll 7, M Abbott 6; B Allen 7, A Sullivan 6, C Flynn 6. Substitutes: L Pearson 7 for Doyle (inj, 25), C Stewart 7 for Allen (51), J O’Connor 7 for Flynn (52), C Donohoe for Hyland ( 65), C McNamee for Abbott (70).
Reference – D O’Mahoney (Tipperary)