Monday 23 July 2018

Dunne: Clare showed way

Wexford boss pays tribute to fallen champs

Wexford manager Liam Dunne is refusing to get carried away in the wake of their thrilling 2-25 to 2-22 All-Ireland SHC qualifier victory on Saturday night.

While clearly delighted, Dunne knows they have a long way to go. "It was a great game again, to go to extra-time, who would ever have believed it?," he said.

"It's fabulous for the people of Wexford. Unfortunately, it's the first round of the qualifiers and we've another game next week but, look it, it's great to still be in the championship."

Dunne was also quick to heap praise on the fallen All-Ireland champions, who finished the regulation 70 minutes with 13 players following the dismissals of defenders Brendan Bugler and Jack Browne.

"Clare proved why they are All-Ireland champions. We put them to the pin of their collar last week, went 10 points up and, in fairness to them, they came back. They're great champions.

"We look back to last year, the way Clare led the way."

After Clare were allowed to return to their full compliment of 15 for the additional time, the feeling was that Wexford had missed their chance for the second week running.

But under-21 star Jack Guiney's three late points ensured a famous win. Indeed, Guiney was the star of the show, coming on seven minutes before half-time and finishing with a personal tally of 0-10.

The Banner had led by 1-5 to 0-6 at the break, despite the loss of Bugler for a straight red card for striking Liam Óg McGovern. And when Browne followed suit, the hosts began to take control and Harry Keogh's brilliant goal put them ahead.

But in a dramatic finish, Colin Ryan hit a '65' in the fourth minute of injury-time to force the draw. The momentum appeared to be firmly with the visitors once more only for Guiney to step up to the plate and send Wexford Park into raptures. The Model men will face Waterford next weekend.

Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald was in defiant form despite the defeat. Many had expected his young side to secure back-to-back All-Ireland titles but he insisted that his players will be competing for top honours again.

"We in Clare are proud of what we've done last year and I'm so proud of what the boys done this year," he explained.

"We will regroup and we will come back again. We're fighters and I'm so proud of them guys with all the adversity that was put in there way. They showed what they are made of and fair play to them.

"To say we were unlucky doesn't say it. The best thing is to say nothing but fair play to Wexford they played tremendous stuff again. Maybe they (the red cards) were warranted but maybe there were other instances when they were warranted as well."

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