Sending off leaves just one man down
POST-MATCH TALK:In the ecosystem of a team defending an All-Ireland, a day like this does no harm at all. Pat Gilroy saw his team come through it without some of his biggest names doing anything to impress, leaving them with points to prove in the Leinster final. That’s not a bad outcome for the first day of July.
“The team showed great character,” he said. “You couldn’t fault the character when we went a man down. Especially because we hadn’t been going that well. If you lose a man and you’d been going well you can carry on.
“But these lads have dug deep before and it’s not every day that you’re going to go out and everything is going to go right. Those are days that showed the true character. They showed that today in adversity, when defeat was a distinct possibility. They really upped the intensity and I think that got us home.”
They were helped, of course, by the errant shooting of their opponents in the second half. Wexford had been popping points from all angles before the break, with Ben Brosnan a constant danger. Gilroy made sure his side got tighter as the game wore on but even so, Wexford helped him out far more than he could have expected. And once the Hill sensed weakness in Brosnan’s shooting, their scores dried up.
“I think we put on a bit more pressure,” he said. “Now, some of their shots in the first half were incredible. I suppose they were aided a little bit by the wind, but they got some great scores in the first half. Their shooting was poor [after half-time]. There was no pressure on frees and you would normally expect him to score a few of them. Maybe we had turned the screw a little bit at that stage even though we were a man down and maybe that got to them.”
For Jason Ryan, dejection at Dublin’s hands is an all-too familiar feeling.
This was the fourth defeat in five seasons yet the one thing they don’t suffer from is an inferiority complex. They genuinely believe they have it in them to beat Dublin. That’s why it hurts so much when they don’t.
“We should have beaten the All-Ireland champions today,” said Ryan. “If we don’t go on and win some more games, then the players, management and everybody involved has let themselves down. That’s up to us to get ourselves together.”
To Ryan’s eye, the game turned when Dublin went down to 14 men. Up to then, he was able to look at the board and plan for the next move. Once Diarmuid Connolly got the line, however, he felt Dublin went all loosey-goosey and Wexford couldn’t keep track of where each piece was going.
“It gave them a huge lift. Straight away when he was sent off, they got a free. Straight away they got a chance to come at us with our kick-out and pin us in. They did that very, very well. They worked very hard. I don’t know how this 14-man thing works at all.
“If a team plays off the cuff, it’s very hard. You don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know where the ball’s coming from. If they had 15 players, would Bryan Cullen have pushed on as much in the last 20 minutes? I don’t know. It’s very hard to deal with them. You’re trying to set up cover in different areas, you’re presuming this will happen and that will happen and it just doesn’t because their shape has totally changed.”