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Wexford end 56 years of heartache

By John Campbell

Life just gets better and better for Wexford.

Hot on the heels of their elevation into Division Two of the league, Jason Ryan's side have bridged a 56-year gap by booking their place in the Leinster final against Dublin or Westmeath.

And the Slaneysiders reached their destination in the most emphatic manner possible at Croke Park against Laois.

For Wexford this is yet another chapter in what has proven a stunningly successful year. But 31-year-old Ryan, the second youngest manager in the country, believes the best is yet to come.

"We don't mind who we meet in the Leinster final. We have just kept working at our game but now we'll have to take it to a higher level," said Ryan.

His side started slowly, then speeded up and eventually blew Laois away.

Wexford should have been further ahead than 0-6 to 0-4 at half time. Mattie Forde hit some uncharacteristic wides but when he regained his touch after the break there was no stopping Wexford.

With Adrian Morrissey in perpetual motion, David Murphy a rock at the back and both Redmond Barry and PJ Banville unstoppable, Wexford streaked clear despite a raft of Laois substitutes, of whom Colm Kelly grabbed three late points to spare some of their blushes.

Forde ended up with six points while Barry and Banville ensured another half dozen scores in an all-round display of efficiency and poise.

Colm Parkinson bagged five for the losers but Padraig Clancy seriously blotted his copy book by incurring a red card in the 66th minute.

The damage had been done by then, of course. Wexford were already focused on the final and having cocked a snook at the history books they will now be keen not only to carry the Leinster standard into the All Ireland series, but to make a bold bid for 'Sam'. It will take a very well drilled side to jettison their lofty aspirations.

Wexford: A Masterson: N Murphy, P Wallace, B Malone; A Morrissey (0-2), D Murphy, C Morris; T Howlin, E Bradley (0-1); R Barry (0-3), PJ Banville (0-4), A Flynn; C Lyng, B Doyle (0-1), M Forde (0-6, 0-2 '45's', 1 free). Substitutes: D Welsh for N Murphy 45 mins, S Roache (0-1) for Flynn 55 mins, R Stafford for Howlin 63 mins, C Byrne for Doyle 67 mins.

Laois: M Nolan; C Healy, M Timmons (0-1), J Higgins: T Kelly, D Rooney, P McMahon; K Meaney, J O'Loughlan (0-1), M McConnock, B Sheehan, R Munnelly (0-1), C Parkinson (0-5), P Lawlor, M Tearney (0-1). Substitutes: P Clancy for Meaney 14 mins, B Crigley for Sheehan (H/T), D Brennan for Tearney 53 mins and C Kelly (0-3, 0-2 frees) for Lawler 57 mins.

Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).

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