Dublin’s comeback denies gutsy Wexford the spoils

Dean Rock’s late equaliser earns experimental Dublin line-up a draw

Dublin’s Graham Hannigan attempts to block a shot from Wexford’s Pierce O’Connor  during the O’Byrne Cup clash at St Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Dublin’s Graham Hannigan attempts to block a shot from Wexford’s Pierce O’Connor during the O’Byrne Cup clash at St Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

Wexford 2-6 Dublin 0-12

Everything about this game screamed of the first Sunday in January: enthusiastic yet lethargic football; flurries of scores at odd intervals; and two chaotic team sheets that never got official confirmation.

That it couldn’t even provide a winner also proved suitable for the time of year.

Dublin only briefly lived up to their All-Ireland winning status and Wexford showed enough heart to deserve the draw. Still it was every bit as forgettable as it should be.

Conditions on the back pitch of St Patrick’s Park in Enniscorthy (actually the fourth choice of venue) weren’t that bad, yet the fact Dublin only scored four points in the first half is some measure of the quality.

By then, Wexford had scored 2-5 – a goal from Ben Brosnan, then a penalty from Aidan Flynn – and looked on course for a mild New Year surprise.

Dublin rallied accordingly. Dean Rock – one of just three of their All-Ireland-winning team to start – finished with 0-6, including the equalising score just at the death. Philly McMahon and James McCarthy also come on for the second half, although McMahon didn’t actually see the game out as he was black-carded.

More positives

David Power

Although clearly short of football, Banville hit Wexford’s only point of the second half which briefly restored their advantage, only for Rock to level it again at the death.

“Ultimately in the second half Dublin really took over, but for us to be hanging on, we’re happy,” admitted Power.

“We had chances we could have taken but they had chances too. That was probably a fair enough result.

“I know Dublin are only back training or whatever but it’s a great, positive start for us. I suppose we dropped four or five balls into the keeper’s hands in the second half. That was just pure tiredness, but look, to not concede a goal against Dublin is very positive for us.”

Banville will certainly add to Wexford’s set-up in 2016, although for now the first and only aim is promotion back out of Division Four.

“Promotion is the main thing but it’s over seven games,” added Power. “We’re not going to target January 31st. Every game we’re going to target. If we can get a level of performance like that every day we should be winning a lot of games down in Division Four.”

For Dublin, the defending O’Byrne Cup champions, the main talking point afterwards was the loss of full back Rory O’Carroll, who will spend 2016 in New Zealand.

Manager Jim Gavin handed several players starting positions, including Eoin Culligan from Cuala at full back, although no one particularly shone above the likes of the already established Rock, Andrews and Denis Bastick.

“I think it was good endeavour from both teams for this time of the season,” said Dublin Gavin.

“Wexford put in a very impressive first half performance, and likewise we did in the second half. To be seven down, I thought the guys showed great composure there and great spirit for this time of the year. We just went back in camp yesterday morning so it was a good weekend’s work.

Playing catch-up

Gavin also admitted that defending the O’Byrne Cup was not a priority.

“It would be nice if that happens, but it’s really about giving players opportunities and letting them experience senior intercounty football and playing other intercounty teams. Most of those guys have represented their county at some stage in their careers so they know what’s required.

“They are here on merit. We have been looking and scouting over the last while and we look forward to seeing them on the park again on Wednesday against IT Carlow,” added the Dublin manager.

WEXFORD: A Masterson; J Connor, R Vallejo (0-1), N Rossiter; B Malone, S Donohue, K Butler; C Kehoe, G Malone; N Hughes, A Flynn (1-1), K O’Grady (0-1); B Brosnan (1-1), J Carty, K Rowe (0-1). Subs: T Rossiter for Malone (14mins, black card), PJ Banville (0-1) for Butler (43 mins), S Ryan for Rowe (45 mins), S Doyle for Connor (55 mins), P O’Connor for Hughes (68 mins).

DUBLIN: M Savage; J Curley, E Culligan, C Mullally; N Devereux, J Small, M Concarr; D Bastick, C Reddin; J Whelan (0-1), D Rock (0-6, two frees), S Carthy (0-1); C Costello (0-1, P Andrews (0-2), C O’Callaghan (0-1). Subs: J McCarthy for Devereux (half time), P McMahon for Concarr (half time), G Hannigan for Culligan (46 mins), N Scully for Bastick (47 mins), A Caffrey for McMahon (55 mins, black card), N Walsh for O’Callaghan (57 mins).

Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).

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