Both teams had a player sent off in the first-half but Wexford were fortunate to finish with 14 men as two Dublin players appeared to be hit in the head off the ball after the break and in later incidents Joey Wadding and Colm Kehoe were both fortunate to escape with yellow cards.
McEnaney remarked: “It’s a physical game we’re playing and if there’s one thing that disappoints me about the GAA over the last number of years is that we’re losing the physicality. It’s one part of my game I don’t intend losing for whoever I’m managing.
“I would say what John Turbit did (kicking out), whatever it was, it was foolish if he did strike but I don’t mind taking yellow cards. There’d be loads of days that I’d be disappointed not taking six or seven of them. It’s a physical game and I think it’s a matter of players when to be physical and when not to be.”
At the interval, Paul Clarke, Dublin’s manager for the competition, had asked referee Seamus Mulhare to explain Gary Sweeney’s straight red and was informed it was for striking. He played down the blows his players took in the second-half. “It’s a physical game, we knew it was going to be physical coming down here. Our guys are robust enough to take hits and if it’s a case they need treatment so be it, dust themselves down and get back on again.”
Clarke will have at least one more game in charge of the county as the win combined with UCD’s defeat to DCU in Belfield yesterday sealed their semi-final against Kildare. The intention is to stick with the same development panel he has picked from for the group matches.
“As far as I understand, this is the squad that’s going forward to next week. The objective was to get as many players as possible through into National League contention and championship contention and that stays good. You got to stay loyal to them.”
Having played against the wind, Dublin finished three points up at the break, 1-7 to 1-4. Wadding had drawn Wexford level when his speculative hit from distance fooled Evan Comerford and found the net. Dublin, though, raised a green flag seconds later when Conor McHugh slalomed through the home defence. Wexford again drew level with 15 minutes of normal time remaining, Ben Brosnan adding three points upon his arrival as a half-time substitute. But Paul Hudson’s marksmanship won the game for Dublin. As it turned out, he was Dublin’s only scorer in the second half with five points, two from play, but it sufficed.
McEnaney was hardly despondent. “The O’Byrne Cup has been brilliant for Wexford. We have used it to formalise our panel. We’re cutting the panel tomorrow and I suppose that showed in the team we started today. Some fellas were in contention and it’s left me with things to think about tonight. We won one game, lost one game and drew one game – I couldn’t have written the script any better in that we want to focus on the NFLand we have three weeks to do that. I think we’ve found some fantastic young players. I don’t like singling them out but the likes of young James Stafford here last Wednesday night was fantastic and Jake Firman today and they’re two 19-year-olds. Just to use one more name, John Lacey is back and hasn’t played inter-county football since 2011 and he won a Leinster (U21) championship at centre-back. To name but a few and that’s a big positive for this group of players.”
B. Brosnan (0-4, frees); J. Wadding (1-0); J. Turbit (0-2, 1 free); P. Curtis, R. Nolan, T. Byrne (free) (0-1 each).
P. Hudson (0-8, 6 frees); C. McHugh (1-0); N. Walsh (0-2); R. Hazley, G. Sweeney (0-1 each).
E. Comerford; T. Shields, E. O’Brien, R. McGowan; N .Scully, C. Reddin, R. Gaughan; R. Hazley, R. Deegan; G. Sweeney, S. Boland, N. Walsh; G. Ivory, C. McHugh, P. Hudson.
T. Shields for M. MacDonncha (h-t); S. Cunningham for G. Ivory, J. Whelan for S. Boland (both 52); M. Deegan for R. Deegan (57); C. Mullaly for R. Hazley (62).
G. Sweeney (straight, 33).
C. Swaine; R. Barron, S. Gaul, R. Vallejo; K. Butler, J. Wadding, E. Nolan; S. Byrne, T. Byrne; K. O’Grady, G. Carty, J. Firman; P. Curtis, J. Turbit, R. Nolan.
C. Kehoe for T Byrne, B. Brosnan for Carty (both h-t); T. Rossiter for R. Vallejo (54), P.J. Banville for R. Nolan (54), C. Lyng for P. Curtis (62), N Rossiter for R. Barron (65), J Rossiter for S. Gaul (69).
J. Turbit (straight, 35+1).
S. Mulhare (Laois).