Tuesday 16 January 2018

Salvo of goals vital for Dubs

Leinster U21 HC quarter-final: Dublin 2-12 Eexford 1-8

Dublin’s Seán Ryan blasts his side’s first goal to the net during last night’s Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21HC quarter-final at Innovate Wexford Park. Pic: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Dublin’s Seán Ryan blasts his side’s first goal to the net during last night’s Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21HC quarter-final at Innovate Wexford Park. Pic: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Dublin dumped Wexford from their Leinster U21 hurling perch last night, simultaneously assuming their hosts favourites tag for this year's Bord Gáis Energy provincial title.

The home side were widely tipped to make it a fourth Leinster title on the spin at this level, but they were outclassed by Dublin who, in doing so, engineered just their second Championship victory at the U21 grade in five years.

Against all reasonable expectation, Dublin had this win wrapped up well before the sun set on Wexford Park last evening.

Almost bizarrely, when a mostly subdued Conor McDonald found the net for the home side in injury-time, the score raised barely a ripple of acknowledgement from the home crowd, so insignificant was the score at that late stage and so deflated had the atmosphere become.

Two goals within seconds of each other, five minutes into the second half, did irreparable damage to Wexford resolve and bouyed a classy and self-assured Dublin team who, with Kilkenny already out of this year's Championship, will take on Westmath next in Parnell Park.

Those two scores were utterly crucial though, given just two points separated the teams at the time and Wexford had the very prevalent aid of the wind.

First, Seán Ryan took possession 35 metres from goal, curiously devoid of Wexford marker.

By the time anyone could get close enough to make a tackle, the Setanta forward had already found the net.

Before Wexford had time to digest, Seán Treacy - Dublin's top scorer on the night - scavenged another goal from the remnants of a long Mark McCallion delivery and the sense of deflation in Wexford Park was almost immediately palpable.

From there, it was all about defence for Dublin and theirs was exemplary.

Eoghan O'Donnell outplayed Conor McDonald and justly collected the TG4 Man of the Match.

Cian MacGabhann led from the pivot of that back-line.

And James Madden linked play and undid Wexford attacks at their source.

The good omens started early.

Dublin won the toss and elected to play with what, on a sunny evening, was noticeably stiff and direct wind coming from the town end of Wexford Park.

Initially, it worked.

They strode confidently into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead after 15 minutes, spreading the burden through their attack.

Cian Boland, one of Dublin's breakthrough acts in 2015, was named to start, despite not having played at any level this year to due to injury.

And though he was one of two Dublin players pulled from the team before throw-in, Boland came on as a 28th minute substitute.

At that stage though, Wexford had grown in stature.

Partly, they were encouraged by Dublin's wanton waste of possession.

Eight wides and countless over-hit passes into a full-forward line hardly towering over their men tells it's own story.

More and more, Wexford were finding space and breaking from deep, though their danger men were kept mostly mute.

In particular, McDonald was subdued by Eoghan O'Donnell but they managed to finish the half with three of the concluding five points to leave a wholly management three points between the teams at the break.

From there, Wexford would have still seemed more likely winners but on the foundation of such a solid defence, Dublin found their groove and Treacy, Jake Malone and Eoghan Conroy all punished Wexford in what, prior to McDonald's goal, had become a rout.

SCORERS - Dublin: S Treacy 1-5 (0-2f), S Ryan 1-1, E Conroy, J Malone 0-2 each, M McCallion, C Bennett ('65) 0-1 each. Wexford: C McDonald 1-5 (0-3f, 0-1 '65), P Foley, S Kelly, C Dunbar 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: J Treacy; J Madden, E O'Donnell, C Hendricken; J Bellew, C MacGabhann, S Barrett; J Malone, M McCallion; E Conroy, AJ Murphy, S Treacy; S Ryan, C O'Neill, C Bennett. Subs: C Boland for O'Neill (28), E McHugh for Bennett (45), F Ó Riain Broin for Murphy (48), M Cavanagh for Malone (51), K Wigglesworth for Hendricksen (57)

WEXFORD: O O'Leary; S Donohoe, L Ryan, B Quigley; A Maddock, P Foley, R White; J Firman, J O'Connor; J Cash, S Kelly, C Devitt; C Dunbar, C McDonald, D Pepper. Subs: K Foley for Cash (28), B Kelly for S Kelly (38), K Sheridan for White (40), S Casey for Pepper (43), G Bailey for Devitt (48)

ATTENDANCE: 3,500 (Est.)

REF: P Burke (Kilkenny)

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