Wexford throw away chance against Dublin

Dublin 2-11 Wexford 1-10

Dublin 2-11 Wexford 1-10

For quite a while, it looked as though Meath’s defeat of Kildare would be overshadowed by the All-Ireland champions being turfed out of the Leinster championship by Wexford.

That it didn't happen could be attributed to the continuing impact of Kevin McManamon and the winners’ experience.

Probably the most telling factor though was Wexford’s appalling profligacy; the Model County men shot 11 wides in the second half and managed only two points, as they left a Dublin outfit reduced to 14 men for the last half hour completely off the hook.

Diarmuid Connolly could have no arguments about his straight red card either, as he punched Brian Malone in the midriff, giving referee Rory Hickey absolutely no option but to send him marching.

This was a repeat of last year’s Leinster final and despite the fact that Wexford went so close to toppling the Dubs on that occasion, they were given little chance of troubling them this time around.

Despite a strong start from Dublin, with points from McManamon and Connolly, it became increasingly evident that Wexford would not be going away.

Redmond Barry got them off the mark, and after Anthony Masterson made a good save from Alan Brogan, who had a rare off-day, Barry rounded Philip McMahon brilliantly to goal with a low shot in the tenth minute.

Alan Brogan and Ben Brosnan exchanged scores before Bernard Brogan – who was substituted late on after making very little impact – blazed wide from a good position.

Adrian Flynn put a goal between the sides, but that margin was wiped out in one fell swoop as Connolly showed the positive side of his game with a brilliant finish beyond Masterson.

It had to be good to beat Masterson today, and probably fuelled by the memory of his error that gifted Dublin a crucial goal 12 months ago, he was to produce an outstanding performance. There were further stops from Bryan Cullen and Bernard Brogan, the latter a real top-drawer save.

Wexford finished strongly with points from Shane Roche (free), PJ Banville and Brosnan’s second effort from outside the 45 to lead by three at the break, 1-8 to 1-5.

As expected, Dublin resumed in determined fashion, and as Wexford totted up the wides, Stephen Cluxton (free), Kevin Nolan and Bernard Brogan (free) had the teams level once more after 45 minutes. Remarkably, that latter score was the former Footballer of the Year’s only successful shot of the day.

This run of scores came despite Connolly seeing red. He had clearly been overcome by the mist before the card was issued, having been involved in another incident prior to becoming engaged with Malone.

Wexford seemed to lose their composure as the enormity of the opportunity dawned on them. Brosnan, who had been so good in the opening period, landing four brilliant points from play, had a nightmare second half, kicking six wides of his own.

They did manage their only two points of the half courtesy of Adrian Flynn and a Ciaran Lyng free to go ahead again, but they were punished clinically for a defensive error when Graeme Molloy – who had been so good on Bernard Brogan – misjudged the flight of the ball.

Brogan collected position and fed McManamon, who sent a rising shot to the roof of the Wexford net. He followed up with a point but Wexford continued to create chance after chance. Unfortunately, they spurned them all and it was Dublin who closed the game out thanks to late points from Nolan and Cullen.

Scorers – Dublin: K McManamon 1-3; D Connolly 1-1; B Cullen, K Nolan 0-2 each; B Brogan (f), S Cluxton (f), A Brogan 0-1 each

Wexford: B Brosnan 0-4; R Barry 1-1; A Flynn 0-2; S Roche (f), C Lyng (f), PJ Banville 0-1 each

Dublin: S Cluxton; P McMahon, R O’Carroll, M Fitzsimons; J McCarthy, g Brennan, K Nolan; E Fennell, D Bastick; P Flynn, A Brogan, B Cullenn; D Connolly, K McManamon, B Brogan. Subs: C O’Sullivan for Brennan inj (31); MD Macauley for Fennell (ht); C Kilkenny for McManamon (69); R McConnell for Bastick (70)

Wexford: A Masterson; G Molloy, L Chin, B Malone; D Murphy, A Flynn, A Doyle; D Waters, E Bradley; C Morris, C Lyng, B Brosnan; PJ Banville, S Roche, R Barry. Subs: P Byrne for Lyng (51); J Leacy for Morris (60); N Murphy for Doyle (65); J Wadding for Molloy (70); J Holmes for Malone (70)

Referee: R Hickey (Clare)

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