Thursday 21 November 2019

Kenny happy after last gasp draw

Dublin 1-22 Wexford 2-19

Conal Keaney of Dublin in action against Matthew O’Hanlon of Wexford during the Leinster SHC match at Parnell Park yesterday.
Pic: Sportsfile
Conal Keaney of Dublin in action against Matthew O’Hanlon of Wexford during the Leinster SHC match at Parnell Park yesterday. Pic: Sportsfile

Mattie Kenny wasn't struggling for angles from which to view yesterday's salvaged draw against Wexford in Parnell Park although he wore the light expression of a manager whose team had somehow scraped a result having trailed by three points in the 75th minute.

Had Seán Moran not managed - remarkably - to squeeze his free past Mark Fanning and the other six players on the Wexford line as the final seconds drained out of a tense, tactical and gruelling battle, Dublin would have faced the galling scenario of having their season effectively over by the middle of May.

Busted flushes with two matches to play for the second summer in a row.

Having to beat Carlow and Galway to have any involvement in the All-Ireland series isn't exactly ideal but as Moran stood over that last free, Kenny would have taken your arm out of its socket if you'd offered it to him.

"Look, when it went down to the last puck of the game, we were delighted to get the draw," said Kenny.

He said of Moran: "We seen him doing it for Cuala before on Paddy's Day in Croke Park and he came up trumps again today.

"But I suppose the feeling of the players and the feeling of ourselves was we were in a winning position half-way through the second half.

"(Mark) Fanning made a really, really good save when Liam Rushe caught a really good ball and put in Paul Ryan. If that ball had gone in, it was game over at that stage.

"So we're disappointed that we didn't go on and win the game in that period."

Which brings us neatly on to the other way of viewing yesterday's result.

Naturally, given the circumstances of the draw, the Dublin players celebrated the final whistle while Wexford's slumped to the grass beneath them.

But after 63 minutes of this game, Dublin led by five points.

That was the moment at which Ryan had the goal chance outlined by Kenny above and it's impossible not to reach the same conclusion as the Dublin manager that the game would have been over as a contest had they managed to convert it.

But the concession of two goals, scored by Liam Óg McGovern and Rory O'Connor, meant for the second time in eight days that Dublin had squandered a five-point lead in the Leinster SHC.

Last week in Nowlan Park, Kenny bemoaned his team veering from their game plan and going long out of defence.Here, in a sort of dark irony, Dublin were twice turned over attempting to methodically work the ball from their own backline.

First, Eoghan O'Donnell was punished for a heavy touch after again winning a ball in front of his man and then, the similarly outstanding Chris Crummey overcooked a batted pass that bounced to a Wexford hand.

"We hadn't much of an option because at some stages Wexford played with two sweepers," Kenny explained.

"Hitting it long wasn't an option. When you come up against a system like that, you have to be able to play it out from the back.

"It's something that we've just got to get players comfortable with.

"But in fairness to our guys, at that stage we weren't in a great position. There were still five or six minutes to go.

"Our guys kept pushing and plugging away and they got their just rewards at the finish."


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