Youngsters put Dublin back on the map
Leinster MHC final/Dublin 0-17 Wexford 0-12: Believe the hype. Dublin have found a crop of young hurlers who suddenly have the county looking to the future. In winning yesterday's Leinster minor title they gave Dublin its first such honour in 22 years, and the overriding feeling afterwards was that the rest of their careers can't get going fast enough.
Whatever happens for the rest of the season this team will leave an indelible mark. In reaching Croke Park they beat Kilkenny, who had won 14 of the last 15 Leinster minor titles. In beating Wexford they again played with the confidence, class and character of a team determined to carve their own destiny.
Whatever pressure Dublin must have felt vanished at the throw-in. This probably isn't the best minor team Wexford has produced, and though they made a good game of it, in the end they were simply overwhelmed by the spread of Dublin's talent. In fact Dublin didn't appear to extend themselves, and probably have more in the tank.
Wexford were within striking distance for much of the second half, mostly because Dublin failed to convert two early goal chances. Ross O'Carroll and Shane Casey had efforts fall just short, but that still didn't stop Dublin closing the half 0-9 to 0-5 in front. Kevin O'Reilly was a model of consistency from the placed ball, and first-half points from Keith Dunne and Shane Durkin oozed similar style.
Joseph Boland and team captain John McCaffrey, with their sure touch, stood out like veterans of the game at midfield. Boland ended with 0-3, and McCaffrey with 0-4. But Dublin's quality shone in every sector: from Ronan Drumgoole and Tomás Brady in defence to Casey and Declan O'Dwyer up front there was simply no weakness for Wexford to expose.
Wexford, however, will at least have come away knowing they made Dublin work for their win. They fell six points down at the start of the second half, but reduced that to three going into the last 10 minutes. Keith Burke kept the scoreboard ticking over with some excellent free-taking, while PJ Nolan and Fran O'Gorman also found the target at key stages.
Burke had one glorious goal chance with the game still hovering at a three-point margin, but his loose shot drifted wide, and Dublin closed out with the last two points for a deserving win.
With the likes of Brady, McCaffrey and Durkin also playing for the county minor football team, one of the biggest tasks facing this team in the future will be staying together.
But that sort of talk is for another day. Right now Dublin's hurling future looks gloriously bright.
DUBLIN: C McCormack; R Drumgoole, P Callaghan, E Walsh; K Dunne (0-1), T Brady, C Connolly; J Boland (0-3), J McCaffrey (0-4, one free); K O'Reilly (0-4, three frees), S Casey (0-2), J Maher; R O'Carroll (0-1), D O'Dwyer (0-1), S Durkin (0-1). Subs: S O'Rourke for Durkin (41 mins), C Twomey for Maher (47 mins).
WEXFORD: N Maher; C Power, C Lawlor, B O'Connor; R Griffin, G Sinnott, K Walsh; M Molloy, T Waters (0-1); C McGovern, B Travers, F O'Gorman (0-1); PJ Nolan (0-3), K Burke (0-6, all frees), D Redmond. Subs: J Codd (0-1) for Travers (20 mins), S Roche for McGovern (30 mins, inj), P Hughes for Molloy (55 mins).
Referee: D Connolly (Kilkenny).