Below par U-17s are held
IT IS often said that one’s darkest hour comes right before a new dawn.
While there can be no guarantee of this new dawn for Wexford F.C., what is certain is that this game signified their darkest hour in the SSE Airtricity League Under-17 Southern Elite Division.
What awaited them on an extremely warm Saturday afternoon in Ferrycarrig Park was the Kerry and District League, the only team in the division without a win to their name.
After the opening 45 minutes, Kerry must’ve thought that this was maybe their best chance yet to get what would be a rare victory.
They drew first blood in a relatively even half, when a hopeful ball into the box skidded off the head of Wexford defender Dylan Whelan before deflecting off Patrick Dowling and finding its way into the corner of the Wexford goal.
Prior to this 35th-minute opener, both sides had shared attempts at goal.
Seán Smithers blazed over the bar for the pinks moments before Darragh Levingston side-footed wide from a set-piece.
Kerry’s early chance fell to captain James Rusk, but he could only head over the crossbar.
The young Wexford squad, normally full of endeavour and fight, seemed clearly devoid of those two characteristics in an extremely uninspiring first-half.
It’s tough to call whether it was the scorching conditions that caused this dip in form or whether they saw Kerry’s league position and presumed they only needed to tog out.
The one thing that was clear was the necessity for change after the interval.
They did change. Wexford went to a 4-4-2 with Robert Bulmer and Brody Murphy leading the line and most importantly their effort, if not their composure on the ball, saw an increase.
It was the same old story in the 70th minute. Smithers’ cross was latched onto by both Bulmer and Murphy in the six-yard box and neither could find a way past Shane O’Connell in Kerry’s net.
Brian Byrne’s introduction also paid some dividends, as he looked sharp but still couldn’t find a way past the Kerry ‘keeper.
Eventually the barrier did come down however, and Wexford salvaged a point.
Initially it appeared that Caellum Devlin-Travers was fouled in the penalty area, but referee Derek Campion insisted it was outside.
Less than half a minute after the resulting free was taken, Murphy was fouled and this time Campion agreed.
Byrne stepped up to score his first goal of the season and despite O’Connell getting a firm hand on the spot kick, the points were shared.
Wexford F.C.: Seán Maher; Seán O’Brien-Murphy, Kyle Scallan (capt.), Dylan Whelan, Killian Griffin; Graham O’Reilly, Darragh Levingston, Ethan O’Neill, Brody Murphy, Seán Smithers; Robert Bulmer. Subs. - Caellum Devlin-Travers for Levingston (64), Brian Byrne for O’Neill (64), also Seán Maher, Shane Gibson, Killian Flynn.
Kerry: Shane O’Connell; David Rogers, James Rusk (capt.), Patrick Dowling, Liam Collins; Seb Vasiu, Junior Ankomah, John Hayes, Boki Nikic, Nathan Gleeson; John Carmody. Subs. - David Oba for Nikic (65), Dylan Quirke for Ankomah (76), J.R. Tshikato for Gleeson (90), also Leon Shalemba, Paddy O’Rourke, Owen Benson.
Referee: Derek Campion (Wexford).
Kyle Scallan of Wexford about to control the ball as John Carmody (Kerry) looks on.
Wexford’s Seán O’Brien-Murphy in a tussle with Boki Nikic of Kerry,