An under-strength Tipperary Southern & District League representative side, were beaten by a hungrier Wexford Football League side, 4-0 in a match to decide who would top Group D of the FAI Oscar Traynor Trophy in a game played at New Ross last Saturday.
With only thirteen players from an original squad of twenty-two available, the management team of Mick O’Brien and Jason Purcell did not have any problem selecting a team, but the visitors were facing an uphill battle from as early as the second minute when Wexford broke the deadlock.
Good inter-play down the left flank by Declan Downes and Colin O’Brien ended with the TSDL failing to clear their lines allowing Jason Murphy the space to head home from close range. The TSDL who only needed a draw to top the Group regained their composure and came close to drawing level on 19 minutes; from their first corner-kick of the afternoon by Kevin Waters saw a John Shanahan header cleared off the line by Declan Downes. Wexford doubled their lead on 38 minutes when a route-one punt by Pa Doyle saw the ball bounce over the heads of the TSDL defenders allowing the razor sharp Jason Murphy race through and pick his spot past the advancing Evan Comerford. Evan Comerford was the busier of the two goalkeepers as the half came to a close saving with his feet to deny James Carthy and then recovering to deny Kyle Dempsey who had gone around him.
The TSDL who were moving the ball neatly around the middle of the park lacked the penetration up front with David McGrath acting as lone striker never getting the proper service and as a result continued to struggle after the break. Evan Comerford continued to be the busier of the two goalkeepers coming quickly off his line to deny Kyle Dempsey from another route-one ball as the hour mark passed. With just one outfield player on the bench the TSDL brought on Shane Flynn, but it mattered little as Wexford put this game to bed on 67 minutes. Wexford’s most impressive player on view, Tomas Mahon, ran from deep before slipping the ball to Jason Murphy who picked his spot to make it 3-0 and complete his hat-trick.
To rub salt into the wounds, Wexford added their fourth in stoppage time. From a Wexford corner-kick Mark Lowry who had replaced Evan Comerford between the posts for the final ten minutes produced a super reflex save only for the referee to point to the penalty spot for a hotly disputed handball and dubious penalty. Once the dust had settled Tomas Mahon slotted the ball into the opposite corner to give Wexford a home tie against the Mayo League in the last sixteen.
Despite this defeat the TSDL finish as Group runners-up and will play the Defences Forces in the next couple of weeks with the winners of that game at home to the Inishowen League in the last eight. If the TSDL are to have any hope of lifting this prestigious national trophy, last won in 2003; all players selected will have to step up to the mark. It was embarrassing to see just two players on the bench, so unless a full complement of players are available for the Defence Forces game, it might be time to pull the plug.
TSDL: E. Comerford (M. Lowry 80), C. Higgins, K. Waters, P. Tobin, J. Shanahan, T. Cosgrove, A. Hayes, T. Fahey, D. McGrath, D. Slattery, E. Johnson (S. Flynn 65)