Disciplined Dublin keep their focus as Wexford’s brutal challenge is overcome

Leinster SHC Quarter-final replay: Dublin 1-17 Wexford 0-12


A small step forward for Dublin on Saturday night but not a penny more. Certainly no giant leap. Anthony Daly’s side were cannier and more focused than they had been in the drawn game and dutifully returned exactly the same total to the scoreboard.

Wexford were looser, less inventive and nowhere near as disciplined, all of which zapped any chance they had of matching said total. They deserved their defeat just as much as Dublin deserved their victory.

This was torrid stuff. For all the brickbats thrown the way of the drawn game, there was better hurling in Wexford Park the previous weekend – much of it, indeed most of it played by the home side.

Good graces
But here they showed little interest in outhurling Dublin.

Instead, they came with knuckle-dusters and pick-axe handles. They had centre-back Andrew Shore sent off after eight minutes and only Brian Gavin’s good graces saved another couple of their players from a similar fate.

By the end, five of Wexford starting back six had seen at least a yellow card. Having bullied the Dublin forwards into submission in the drawn game, repeating the dose was an obvious enough tactic. But this time they coloured blatantly outside the lines.

Shore walked for clattering Ryan O’Dwyer in the head under a puck-out and Garrett Sinnott could have done the same just before half-time for an equally wild pull on Peter Kelly’s hand. Conal Keaney spent half-time getting stitched up after Richie Kehoe opened a cut over his eye.

That Dublin kept their weapons holstered in the face of much provocation pleased Daly almost as much as the win.

“I’m delighted with the lads. Everyone kept their heads and we didn’t get intimidated either. We stood our ground and took our frees and got on with it. We held our heads – we spoke about it during the week.

“We’d been told by everyone how terrible we were last week and there was probably a natural reaction with that to be more physical and the danger with that is you could lose a man. But we kept our heads and Wexford lost a man instead. So I’m delighted with them.”

In truth, he had slight enough cause to be delighted with their hurling. Dublin sparked only in fits and starts, with Conal Keaney at the heart of most of their best work. Safely returned to the forward line, he provided the bulk they had been missing along with an utter refusal to be cowed.

He scored two points of his own and provided Paul Ryan with a raking diagonal pass for Dublin’s goal. David Treacy and Johnny McCaffrey were live scoring threats as well and O’Dwyer got through plenty of solid work under duress.

But as Daly conceded afterwards, the Kilkenny management won’t have driven home with knuckles clenched on the steering wheel. Dublin’s first touch and striking was pretty woeful at times, calling to mind in fact the game in Portlaoise last year against Brian Cody’s side. It’s hard to see how they can bring it up to scratch in the space of a week.

That said, it was more than sufficient here. They led 1-9 to 0-4 after a bitty first half, Ryan supplementing his goal with a succession of chalk-down frees. Kelly, Keaney and Treacy stuck three in a row from play just before the break to kick dust in the faces of a Wexford team that had only managed a single Sinnott point outside of Jack Guiney’s frees.

Stiffish breeze
And although Wexford made use of a stiffish breeze at the beginning of the second half to bring the margin down to six, Dublin never remotely looked like faltering. An excellent Keaney point on the run in the 51st minute was followed by another couple from McCaffrey and Treacy soon after. It meant that with 15 minutes to go, Dublin led by 1-14 to 0-7. And though Wexford stuck at it, the rest was just bookkeeping really.

Kilkenny next weekend, then. Scant enough reward on the face of it, although Daly wasn’t having any of that kind of chat.

“You’ll have the apes that will be saying we’d have been better off losing it and going the other way to avoid Kilkenny but I don’t look at things that way. Championship hurling is about trying to get a win.”

DUBLIN: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly (0-1), P Schutte; M Carton, L Rushe, S Hiney; J McCaffrey (0-2), J Boland; C Keaney (0-2), R O’Dwyer, D Sutcliffe (0-1); P Ryan (1-9, eight frees, one 65), C McCormack, D Treacy (0-2). Subs: D Treacy for Keaney (temp 35-36 mins); S Durkin for Schutte (ht), D O’Callaghan for McCormack (42 mins); S Lambert for Rushe (60 mins); M Schutte for Treacy, 62 mins; N McMorrow for Sutcliffe, 68 mins. Yellow cards: McCormack, Ryan.
WEXFORD: M Fanning; E Moore, T Waters, B Kenny; R Kehoe, A Shore, D Kenny; H Kehoe (0-1), L Chin; G Sinnott (0-2), E Quigley, D Redmond; P Morris (0-2), J Guiney (0-5, all frees), R Jacob (0-1). Subs: PJ Nolan for Quigley (41 mins); P Doran (0-1) for Redmond, (41); M O’Regan for H Kehoe (64); G Moore for Jacob (69). Yellow cards: Waters, R Kehoe, Sinnott, Kenny, Moore. Red card: Shore
Referee: B Gavin (Offaly).