last gasp Lee Chin rescues point for Wexford in dramatic Leinster SHC opener against Galway
Wexford 1-19 Galway 1-19
Galway blew a winning hand just when it seemed they had done more than enough to ensure that Henry Shefflin’s first Leinster SHC match as manager got off to a victorious start at Chadwicks Wexford Park.
Galway were cruising to victory when they led by 1-18 to 0-15 when Conor Cooney landed his eighth point of the contest after 62 minutes.
Moments earlier it didn't seem to matter when Joseph Cooney had a shot blocked by Matthew O’Hanlon rather than pass inside to the unmarked Conor Cooney for what would probably have been a goal to kill the tie.
But it all began to unravel from there. They lost Conor Whelan to a recurrence of a hamstring injury and then Lee Chin, brought on after 48 minutes, inspired a remarkable Wexford comeback.
Conor McDonald, often left to battle on his own in the full-forward line, somehow squeezed home a goal from a tight angle with a ground stroke and the gap was down to three points with four minutes of regular time remaining.
Tom Monaghan’s fourth point of the game pushed the margin out to four but Galway were still unable to close it out. Lee Chin landed two long-range frees and then Conor Cooney was penalised for time-wasting as he ambled over to take a free and Wexford won another free from the restart which Chin pointed in the fifth minute of added time.
Referee Tomas Walsh had indicated five minutes additional time but there was another play and as Damien Reck burst forward he was fouled by Gearoid McInerney and Chin kept his composure to shoot the equaliser from 65 metres, much to the joy of manager Darragh Egan who applauded his men off the field.
Shefflin and his management will wonder how they let victory slip from a game where they always looked in control and Wexford, Wexford, looking for a first championship win over the Tribesmen since 1996, were chasing the game from early on.
Galway led by 1-11 to 0-8 at the break after an impressive opening half which saw them race into a 1-4 to 0-2 at the end of the opening quarter.
The Tribesmen, having not scored in their final four league games, got a perfect start when Brian Concannon drilled the ball low to the net after being set up by Conor Cooney after five minutes.
Rory O’Connor kept Wexford in contention and McDonald also did well to pick off a couple of scores, but the roving Cathal Mannion ensured plenty of ball going into the Galway forwards, with Whelan always looking a threat.
Monaghan’s dominance around the middle of the field was also key but Wexford kept plugging away and never let Galway get out of sight.
There was a let-off for Galway when Wexford goalkeeper Mark Fanning blasted a penalty just before the break over the bar after McDonald was fouled by McInerney.
Wexford outscored Galway by three points to two in the opening seven minutes of the second-half before the sides twice exchanged points to leave Shefflin’s men four ahead.
Efforts from Conor Cooney and Joseph Cooney extended that to six heading into the final ten minutes and that should have been enough but they lost their way and Chin ensured they paid a heavy price as Wexford rallied for what could yet be an invaluable point in the battle to get out of the province.
Scorers: Wexford – R O’Connor 0-6 (0-4f), C McDonald 1-2, L Chin 0-5 (0-3f, 0-1 ’65), M Fanning 0-1 pen, O Foley 0-2, S Donohoe 0-1, C Flood 0-1 C Dunbar 0-1. Galway – C Cooney 0-8 (0-4f, 0-3 ’65), T Monaghan 0-4, B Concannon 1-1, C Whelan 0-2, J Cooney 0-2, D Morrissey 0-1, C Mannion 0-1.
Wexford: M Fanning; S Donohue, L Ryan, M O'Hanlon; P Foley, D Reck, C Flood; K Foley, D O'Keeffe; L Óg McGovern, O Foley, C McGuckin; R O'Connor, C McDonald, M Dwyer. Subs: C Dunbar for Dwyer (47 mins), L Chin for O Foley (48 mins), J O’Connor for McGuckin (52 mins), O Pepper for K Foley (66 mins).
Galway: E Murphy; J Grealish, D Burke, D Morrissey; P Mannion, G McInerney, F Burke; J Cooney, T Monaghan; E Niland, C Cooney, C Fahy; C Whelan, B Concannon, C Mannion. Subs: G Lee for Niland (54 mins), D Burke for Whelan (59 mins), K Cooney for C Fahy (66 mins), J Hastings for Concannon (73 mins), J Coen for Burke (75 mins)
Referee: T Walsh (Waterford).
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