Wexford lost last night’s Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Quarter Final replay, 1-17 to 0-12, a scoreline which in itself tells you much about the game. Overall it was a disappointment and never really got going as a contest, a contest where Wexford’s best performances came at the back with Tomás Waters and Eoin Moore standing out.
Shortly before the throw in, the news emerged that Keith Rossiter was out, replaced by Buffers Alley Bobby Kenny. Rossiter who had impressed in the drawn game suffered an injury in the warm up; it was news that certainly unsettled the Wexford support.
The game started gamely and Dublin opened the scoring through a Paul Ryan free, Jack Guiney replied for Wexford. Then with just 6 minutes played, arguably the games defining moment occurred when Andrew Shore was shown a straight red card by referee Brian Gavin. The sense around the ground was disbelief; over 60 minutes of the game to be played and Wexford were down to 14, the challenge looked daunting. To add insult to injury, the officials failed to punish the blatant attack on Wexford corner back Eoin Moore, when he was pinned to the ground by one of the Dublin players and repeatedly struck in the head, a clear cut red card surely…
This sending-off was a game-changer, requiring a re-gigging of the Wexford line up and tearing up the game plan. Lee Chin, who had started well at midfield dropped back to the wing and Ciaran Kenny went centre back leaving Jacob and Guiney as a two man full forward line.
Down to 14 men, Wexford looked immediately under pressure and Dublin benefited from the increased space and that there was less pressure on the man in possession, putting together some nice patches of play.
Then after 13 minutes Conal Keaney played a dangerous ball into the Dublin forward line, Eoin Moore was out first and should have controlled it badly misqueued, (possibly suffering from the earlier incident?) the ball bounced to Dublin’s Paul Ryan who buried it past Fanning, leaving him with no chance of a save.
By the break Wexford trailed 1-9 to 0-4 and frankly things looked bleak as supporters feared a possible second half collapse.
To Wexford’s credit the team did not collapse and battled to the final whistle with points from Sinnott, Harry Kehoe and Podge Doran cutting the lead down to 5 points at one stage. The introduction of Doran added an immediate new threat to the Wexford attack and his direct, powerful running yielded a number of scores and could have resulted in a game changing goal which had it come would have made for an interesting last quarter. However Dublin tacked on six points to keep them ticking over, hitting four of the last six points of the game.
Wexford now drop into the qualifiers where they will play Antrim next Saturday night (22nd) in Wexford Park, with the winners to play Carlow. While Dublin face a big test against All Ireland Champions Kilkenny next week.
Wexford can take a few positives from their tussles with Dublin, our fitness levels are impressive and the spirit and commitment of the team is heartening. Our intensity levels are rising but we now need to match this with discipline, we are conceded too many frees while the red and yellow card count was far too high as well. Liam Dunne will be disappointed but will hope that his charges can regroup and progress in the qualifiers, improving and learning. Players like Eoin Moore, Podge Doran, Tomás Waters, Lee Chin are visibly growing with each game they play, while Rory Jacob is as sharp as ever. There will be knockers and we still have a way to go but this team is maturing and progress is coming.
Scorers – Wexford: J Guiney 0-5f, G Sinnott, P Morris 0-2 each, H Kehoe, P Doran, R Jacob 0-1 each
Dublin: P Ryan 1-9f (0-9f), J McCaffrey, C Keaney, D Treacy 0-2 each, P Kelly, D Sutcliffe 0-1 each
Wexford: M Fanning; E Moore, T Waters, B Kenny; R Kehoe, A Shore, C Kenny; H Kehoe, L Chin; G Sinnott, E Quigley, D Redmond; P Morris, J Guiney, R Jacob. Subs: PJ Nolan for E Quigley (42), P Doran for D Redmond (42), M O’Regan for H Kehoe (65), G Moore for R Jacob (68)
Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte; M Carton, L Rushe, S Hiney; J McCaffrey, J Boland; C McCormack, R O’Dwyer, D Sutcliffe; P Ryan, C Keaney, D Treacy. Subs: S Durkin for P Schutte (h/t), D O’Callaghan for C McCormack (43), S Lambert for L Rushe (60), M Schutte for D Treacy (63), N McMorrow for D Sutcliffe (67)
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly)