Meath made a gallant bid to stay in the race for the Leinster MHC title, but they faltered as Wexford recorded a hard-earned 1-18 to 2-10 victory at Pairc Tailteann today.
Wind-assisted Wexford were always comfortable in the opening half as they established a 1-12 to 1-4 interval advantage, but all that changed after resumption as Meath staged a rousing revival that just fell short.
Wexford managed 10 wides in that opening half against a hard-working and determined Meath challenge that was boosted at the end of the first-quarter when Rosss Ryan kicked the sliotar to the net.
Meath managed a brace of points either side of that goal with Josh Wall (two frees), Charlie Bird and Ronan Ryan on target.
All that did was keep the game alive, but against that strong wind Meath looked like they would struggle as the boys from the south east picked off the points. Jake Firman (five), Niall Hughes and Daire Barden (two each), Nevin Rossiter, Kevin Poole and Darragh Pepper claimed the Wexford points.
Hughes found the net for Wexford nine minutes from the break when he finished well under pressure from a couple of defenders.
Bird claimed all Meath's second-half scores with a tally for 1-6 that included a late penalty that skimmed the top of the Wexford crossbar, but it wasn't enough to cause a shock on this occasion as points from Firman (three), Pepper (two) and Ciaran O'Connor sustained the visitors.
Meath – Noel O'Sullivan (Na Fianna); Jack Bird (Boardsmill),Luke Moran (Trim), Conor Dempsey (Clann na nGael), Luke Swaine (Clann na nGael), Jack Payne (Rathmolyon); Charlie Bird (Boardsmill 1-7 three frees,one penalty point), Luke Martyn (Dunderry); Josh Wall (Drumree 0-2 frees), Ronan Ryan (Kiltale 0-1), Liam Carey (Drumree); Alex Walsh (Dunderry), Ross Ryan (Kiltale 1-0), Conor Kearney (Kildalkey). Subs – Martin Healy (Kildalkey) for Kearney half-time, Patrick Leahy (Navan O'Mahonys) for Brogan 40 mins, Ross Healy (Longwood) for Walsh 59m.
Wexford – D Hughes; C Firman, M O'Brien, B Edwards; N Rossiter (0-1), A Maddock, I Carty; J O'Connor, C Dunbar; S Kelly, D Barden (0-2), K Poole (0-1); N Hughes (1-2), J Firman (0-8 six frees), D Pepper (0-3). Subs – C O'Connor (0-1) for Poole 33 mins, S Stafford for Rossiter 40m, S Casey for Barden 55m, B Cowman for Kelly 57m.
Referee – Michael Murtagh (Westmeath).
See next edition of Meath Chronicle for full report and analysis