Wexford foil gallant Dubs
Holders display class to clinch Leinster title
A WONDERFUL goal from Conor McDonald in the 45th minute propelled Wexford to a deserved 1-20 to 0-18 victory over Dublin in their Bord Gais Energy Leinster Under 21 Hurling Championship Final at a sun-kissed Parnell Park last night.
The defeat secured an unenviable triple crown for the Dubs following their provincial losses to Kilkenny at both minor and senior grade last Sunday, although this was a much better effort from the Dubs.
The visitors almost made a perfect start inside fifteen seconds as Rhys Clarke raced through unopposed but he was eventually smothered out with Conor Dooley blocking his tame effort.
However, the holders gained early reward for their pressure with full-forward McDonald opening the scoring with a sublime point in the 2nd minute.
From their initial attack, the Dubs almost registered a goal of their own but Oisin O'Rorke's sharp turn and shot was repelled by Oliver O'Leary at his near post.
Wexford assumed complete control from that juncture with Aidan Nolan doubling his side's tally in the 3rd minute and Padraig Foley added another score in an instant as Dublin struggled to deal with the movement of their opponents.
From isolated possession, Dublin finally opened their account through a well-taken score from Paul Winters in the 5th minute but the accuracy of the Wexford attack ensured they built on their advantage through successive points by Clarke and McDonald.
O'Rorke's influence began to steadily grow as the half progressed as he won a free from which Winters converted before teeing up clubmate Caolán Conway for a facile score as the Dubs belatedly began to find their feet.
Scores were still coming far too frequently at the opposite end for Dublin's liking as Nolan once again highlighted his scoring threat from midfield with another well-taken score in the 16th minute.
The contest became far more even for the remainder of the half as Conway once again pointed following good work by O'Rorke and the latter deservedly opened his own account ten minutes before the break to add some momentum to Dublin's challenge.
The Kilmacud Crokes turned adroitly in the 23rd minute but from an acute angle his shot had too much elevation and cleared O'Leary's crossbar to the relief of the Wexford goalkeeper.
The half ended with the sides trading scores as an excellent point from Cian Boland helped trim Dublin's arrears to four points (0-12 to 0-8) by the interval.
The second-half began as a mirror image of the opening period as Clarke escaped the attentions of the Dublin defence but despite making a better connection than his previous attempt, Dooley stood tall to block his attempt.
That save seemed to galvanise the hosts and they could have come to within a point of their opponents in the 36th minute but his powerful drive clipped the crossbar after his initial free had been blocked.
A monstrous long-range free by Dooley added to their renewed confidence but much of their improved work was punctured at the end of the third quarter as McDonald collected a pass from Kevin Foley before firing an unstoppable shot beyond Dooley from eight yards.
The Dubs battled gamely until the end but never looked likely to reel in their opponents in the closing stages.
Scorers - Wexford: J Guiney 0-8 (5f, 1 '65), C McDonald 1-3, A Nolan 0-4, R Clarke 0-2, P Foley, G Moore, P Sutton 0-1 each. Dublin: P Winters 0-9 (6f, 1 '65'), C Conway 0-3, O'Rorke, G Whelan 0-2, C Boland, C Dooley (f) 0-1 each.
Wexford: O O'Leary; D Byrne, L Ryan, E Conroy; A Kenny, S O'Gorman, J O'Connor; A Nolan, C Devitt; J Guiney, C Moore, P Foley; Clarke, McDonald, Foley. Subs: J White for Byrne (20), P Sutton for P Foley (56), T French for Devitt (60+2).
Dublin: C Dooley; M McCaffrey, C O'Callaghan, S McClelland; E O'Donnell, C Crummey, C Robinson; D Gormley, G Whelan; P Winters, A Clabby, C Cronin; C Boland, C Conway, O O'Rorke. Subs: C Mac Gabhann for Robinson (half-time), F McGibb for Clabby (35), M Kavanagh for Gormley (49), K O'Flynn for Conway (55), AJ Murphy for O'Donnell (60+3)
REF - David Hughes (Carlow)