Cruise control for U21 hurlers
DUBLIN hit 21 wides and yet ran out comfortable winners against Carlow in this Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 Hurling Championship clash at Dr Cullen Park last night.
Indeed, no less than 14 of those wayward shots came in the opening period when the Dubs were playing with the aid of a stiff breeze – something team manager John McEvoy will no doubt want to address before their semi-final clash with Offaly in two weeks’ time.
But that should not take away from the many positives in the performance of the reigning Leinster champions. Senior stars Liam Rushe and Martin Quilty showed their unquestionable class while Danny Sutcliffe was immense at midfield.
The hosts relied heavily on the free-taking of Paul Coady for scores and his brace of dead balls helped the home side to an early 0-3 to 0-1 advantage.
Kevin O’Loughlin and Sean McGrath drew Dublin level just before they found the net on 20 minutes. It was fortuitous to say the least.
McGrath’s long free looked to be dropping safely into the hands of Carlow fullback Gary Kelly. Unfortunately for Kelly, he fumbled it and Rushe managed to bundle the loose ball over the line Eamon Dillon, last year’s county minor goalkeeper, hit two quick-fire points before the interval and suddenly Dublin held a 1-6 to 0-4 advantage at the turnaround.
The game was ended as a contest within five minutes of the restart. McGrath and Dillon both found the target before the former set up O’Loughlin to send an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net.
Paudie Kehoe tried to haul the hosts back into contention but his well-struck free was blocked by Ger McManus and cleared to safety.
Dublin were able to display the strength of their panel as McEvoy emptied his bench. One of those replacements, Ciaran Brennan, was particularly effective and his two goals late on put the icing on the victory.
It was probably rather harsh on Carlow, who battled bravely to the death, to lose by such a heavy margin. However they would have to acknowledge that they were second best in almost every area.
There is still work to be done, but Dublin will be quietly confident of retaining their Leinster crown.