Wexford progressed into the semi-finals of the Leinster SHC after a commanding seven-point decision over Offaly at Wexford Park on Saturday evening.
Leinster SHC Quarter-final:
Wexford 2-17 Offaly 0-16
Stephen Banville and Diarmuid Lyng scored 2-9 between them to provide Wexford with a thoroughly deserved victory.
Lyng and centre-back Richie Kehoe were hugely inspirational figures for the home side but it was Banville who was the ultimate match-winner.
The big full-forward’s first goal helped Wexford settle into the game after a slow start and after an industrious shift at right half-forward for most of the second half, he lashed home his second with time almost up on his return to the edge of the square.
The Shelmaliers clubman added two fine points from play in an excellent individual performance.
Offaly had their own chances and failed to find the target with two second half penalties.
The first was particularly important as it arrived in the middle of a spell of six consecutive points that saw Wexford open up a 1-12 to 0-9 lead, having been level at half time.
Had Daniel Currams managed to find the net in the 45th minute, the result might well have been different. Malachy Travers stopped the Offaly man’s effort though and Wexford carried on in their merry way.
With Lyng and Tomás Waters amongst the scorers, Wexford opened up an eight-point gap.
Offaly suddenly woke up though and with five consecutive points from Kevin Brady, the impressive Shane Dooley, Rory Hanniffy, Joe Bergin and a Brian Carroll free, the gap was down to a goal.
Lyng calmed the home supporters’ nerves from a free and then Banville struck for his second to seal qualification to the Leinster semi-final.
It had started well for Offaly with two points from Carroll and they led by 0-3 to 0-1 when in the 12th minute, Banville collected Michael Jacob’s sideline on the 21 and turned David Kenny before shooting low to Brian Mullins' right.
That score really boosted Wexford and Banville stretched his side’s advantage with a nice point after a clever cross-field pass from Lyng.
Offaly showed commendable resolve to hit the front again with three successive points from Brendan Murphy, Shane Dooley and Joe Bergin.
Derek Redmond levelled with a sensational score from 60m after flicking the sliotar first time into his hand and the sides exchanged scores from there to the interval.
Wexford sprung out of the traps after the resumption and laid the foundation for their win in that period. Offaly could not get a look-in and it took them 16 minutes to register their first score of the half - a Shane Dooley point.
They did stage a strong rally but left themselves too much to do, and it was Lyng and Banville who had the final say.
Wexford: D Fitzhenry; M Travers, P Roche, D O’Connor; M Jacob, R Kehoe, C Kenny; P Atkinson, D Lyng 0-7 (1 sideline, 4fs); A Shore 0-1, T Waters 0-2, R Jacob 0-2; S Doyle 0-2, S Banville 2-2, D Redmond 0-1. Sub: P Carley for Redmond (62); W Doran for R Jacob (70).
Offaly: B Mullins; D Franks, D Kenny, P Cleary; J Rigney, G Oakley, R Hanniffy 0-1; K Brady 0-2, B Murphy 0-2; B Carroll 0-3 (2fs), J Brady, D Molloy; S Dooley 0-4, D Currams 0-1, J Bergin 0-2. Subs: D Horan for Oakley blood (57); C Parlon for J Brady (45); D Horan 0-1 for Currams (52); C Mahon for Molloy (52).
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).