Time for Dublin and their forwards to stand up for themselves

Leinster SHC Quarter-final replay: Dublin v Wexford, Saturday, Parnell Park, 7pm

Dublin’s Conal Keaney battles with Garrett Sinnott of Wexford during last Saturday’s Leinster quarter-final at  Wexford Park. Photograph: Inpho.

Dublin’s Conal Keaney battles with Garrett Sinnott of Wexford during last Saturday’s Leinster quarter-final at Wexford Park. Photograph: Inpho.


For anyone who was in Wexford Park last Saturday night, the sweeping consensus that Dublin will automatically straighten up and fly right this evening must seem curious.

It is most likely based on confidence that they won’t be as poor again but frankly, there’s ample evidence to support the claim they could very well be.

After all, when’s the last time they knocked anyone’s socks off in a game of substance? Pushing Tipp all the way in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final? Beating Limerick in that year’s quarter-final? Either way, you’re getting on for two years at this stage. That’s a mighty long time to be tearing the house apart trying to find where you left your mojo.

Their problem last week wasn’t difficult to identify. Dublin’s inside forwards got bullied by a bigger, stronger Wexford full-back line and the ball never stuck. Moving Conal Keaney back to within shooting distance had to happen and the side looks better balanced now with Stephen Hiney back.

It’s unlikely too that Ryan O’Dwyer’s evening will be as stop-start again.

Yet even if we assume that Dublin can inject life into their attack second time around, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Wexford won’t improve as well.

They had the three best forwards on show in the drawn game, with Jack Guiney, Rory Jacob and Garrett Sinnott a threat with every possession.

This in a game where Peter Kelly and Niall Corcoran were comfortably Dublin’s stand-out performers, remember (along with Peadar Carton).

Dunne sceptical
There is always the possibility that we should take the named Wexford team with a cupful of salt – “If you think this was bad, wait until next week,” Liam Dunne said after the drawn game.

But unless he’s been holding back a cavalry of unknown Wexfordmen somewhere, this is more or less his best team. Lee Chin’s introduction last week added athleticism to an already powerful side – he only needs to take more care over his shooting now to be a real asset.

Melt all this down and the balance of the result lies with the Dublin forwards. In their last three championship matches, the starting attack has yielded four, two and three points from play respectively, with Danny Sutcliffe alone responsible for five of those nine.

That has to change.

It’s already been a bad week for Dublin hurling and the Somme of Parnell Park wouldn’t be the obvious place they’d choose to turn it around. But they have to stand up for themselves at some point.

They get a very tentative nod here.

Last meeting: June 8 , 2013, Leinster Championship at Wexford Park – Wexford 1-17 Dublin 1-17.
Match odds: Dublin 4/11; Wexford 11/4; Draw 12/1.
Injuries: None on either side.
Just the ticket: Stand – Adult: €20; OAP: €10, U16: €5; Terrace – Adult: €10, Student & OAP: €5, U16: €3.
Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte; S Hiney, L Rushe, M Carton; J McCaffrey, J Boland; C Keaney, R O’Dwyer, D Sutcliffe; P Ryan, D Treacy, C McCormack.
Wexford: M Fanning; E Moore, T Waters, K Rossiter; R Kehoe, A Shore, C Kenny; H Kehoe, L Chin; G Sinnott, E Quigley, D Redmond; P Morris, J Guiney, R Jacob.
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly).
Verdict: Dublin.