Dublin return to championship trail with a bang with massive win over Wexford



By Paul Keane, O'Moore Park, Portlaoise

Ciaran Kilkenny led the rout of hapless Wicklow as Dublin returned to the Championship trail with a bang, crushing their neighbours in Portlaoise to secure a Leinster SFC semi-final place.

The Castleknock man helped himself to 1-7, all from play, and was one of four first-half goalscorers as Dublin sealed their progression by half-time.

They led the bottom placed Division 4 team by 18 points at that stage and, in truth, were virtually home and hosed after 17 minutes when they led 2-7 to 0-0.

The brilliant Brian Fenton, Dean Rock and Con O'Callaghan grabbed the other Dublin goals in front of 11,786 at the midlands venue.

Ciaran Kilkenny of Dublin shoots to score his side's third goal of the game during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Wicklow and Dublin at O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Co Laois. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Wicklow manager John Evans admitted beforehand that his team was unlikely to win, or even come close, but they refused to throw in the towel.

James Stafford moved from midfield to full-forward and pinched a 26th minute goal after beating Stephen Cluxton to a high ball.

Dublin still led 4-13 to 1-4 at half-time but Wicklow added another seven points after the break to take some momentum into tomorrow morning's qualifier draw.

As for Dublin, they didn't score any more goals in the second-half but added a dozen points to bring the gap at full-time to 23 points, well shy of last year's 31-point win over Westmeath.

Boss Jim Gavin used the opportunity to run in his full allocation of six substitutes by the 52nd minute and Colm Basquel and Conor McHugh both got on the scoresheet.

Former U-21 star Eoin Murchan also got some rare game time for the Dubs while Kilkenny, Fenton, Paddy Andrews and Paul Mannion all continued to keep the scoreboard operator busy.

Scorers for Dublin: Ciaran Kilkenny 1-7, Con O'Callaghan 1-3, Brian Fenton 1-3, Dean Rock 1-2 (0-2f), Paddy Andrews 0-3, Conor McHugh 0-2 (0-1f), Brian Howard 0-1, Philly McMahon 0-1, Michael Darragh Macauley 0-1, Paul Mannion 0-1 (0-1 45), Colm Basquel 0-1.

Scorers for Wicklow: James Stafford 1-1, Theo Smyth 0-2, Darren Hayden 0-2, Mark Jackson 0-2 (0-2f), Seanie Furlong 0-1 (0-1f), Rory Finn 0-1, Dean Healy 0-1, Mark Kenny 0-1.

Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Eric Lowndes, Philly McMahon, Michael Fitzsimons; James McCarthy, Jonny Cooper, Brian Howard; Michael Darragh Macauley, Brian Fenton; Niall Scully, Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O'Callaghan; Dean Rock, Paul Mannion, Paddy Andrews.

Subs: Eoin Murchan for Fitzsimons (h/t), Conor McHugh for Rock (h/t), Paul Flynn for Macauley (41), Darren Daly for Mannion (41), Colm Basquel for Andrews (48), Kevin McManamon for O'Callaghan (52).

Wicklow: Mark Jackson; Eoin Murtagh, Ross O'Brien, Ciaran Hyland; John Crowe, Dean Healy, Saoirse Kearon; Rory Finn, James Stafford; Darren Hayden, Kevin Murphy, Theo Smyth; Seanie Furlong, John McGrath, Mark Kenny.

Subs: Cathal Magee for Murphy (h/t), Daragh Fitzgerald for McGrath (h/t), Conor Healy for Kearon (50), Paul Merrigan for Crowe (53), Brendan Kennedy for Stafford (58), Daniel Keane for Smyth (68).

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down).

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