Dublin 2-12 Wexford 0-12: Dublin claimed their first provincial title in four years as they overcame Wexford by six points in their Electric Ireland Leinster MHC final at Croke Park yesterday.
With extra-time a distinct possibility, Dublin finished in the ascendancy with late goals from Johnny McGuirk and Donal Burke sealing their victory.
That the Dubs will require improvement if they wish to add a national title is inarguable as they failed to impress in attack throughout despite those late goals.
It was the defence that once again took the plaudits, with the full-back line of Jack O’Neill, Paddy Smyth and Donnacha Ryan excelling throughout in curbing the threat of the Wexford forwards.
Wexford made the more promising start with wing-back Jack Cullen landing the opening score in the first minute before Rory O’Connor doubled that lead two minutes later through a long- distance free.
That margin could well have been extended in the sixth minute as O’Connor raced through unopposed but Dara De Poire produced a superb sprawling save to deny the Wexford captain.
The Dubs struggled for fluency in the first-quarter with a brace of placed balls from Colin Currie levelling matters by the 10th minute
. But Wexford regained a deserved lead when Conal Flood fired over a cracking point soon after.
Dublin’s lack of fluency was reflected in their first score from play arriving as late as the 16th minute through Currie but they improved significantly from that statistic through the excellence of Burke.
The Na Fianna clubman settled Dublin nerves with three points from play in quick succession as he revelled in what was his third successive Leinster final appearance.
O’Connor added a brace of his own in reply but late scores from McGuirk and Currie helped Dublin to enjoy a narrow 0-8 to 0-6 interval lead. The second-half resumed with Dublin enjoying a marked dominance in terms of possession and although Conor Burke pushed his side three clear within a minute of the restart, it proved a frustrating quarter for the blues.
O’Connor replied with a free soon after before the encounter continued to frustrate as neither side managed to trouble the umpires for a 12 minute period.
That barren period was finally ended through a Currie ‘65’ in the 44th minute but Wexford managed to enjoy a purple patch for the ensuing 10 minutes as they landed four unanswered points through Flood, O’Connor and a brace by Reck.
Any momentum those scores offered was quickly negated as McGuirk fired to the net in the 55th minute after an almighty scramble with Burke doing likewise after a powerful run from substitute Peter Feeney four minutes later.
The gloss was added by Ciarán Dowling and John Walsh with Wexford’s misery compounded by the late dismissal of O’Connor after a wild challenge on Jack O’Neill in injury time.
Scorers for Dublin:
D Burke 1-3, C Currie 0-5 (0-2f, 0-2 ‘65’), J McGuirk 1-1, C Burke, C Dowling, J Walsh 0-1 each.
R O’Connor 0-5 (0-2f), D Reck 0-3 (0-1f, 0-1 ‘65’), C Flood 0-2, J Cullen, G Molloy 0-1 each.
D De Poire; J O’Neill, P Smyth, D Ryan; J McVeigh, C O’Sullivan, E Foley; C Ryan, D Gray; C Burke, J McGuirk, D Burke; C Currie, C Dowling, M O’Keeffe.
R Hayes for O’Keeffe (35), D Hawkshaw for McVeigh (40), J Walsh for Gray (41), D Keogh for C Ryan (50), P Feeney for Currie (56).
J Henebry; C Murphy, D Byrne, E Molloy; G Molloy, C Firman, J Cullen; D Reck, B O’Connor; L Stafford, C Flood, A Walsh; R O’Connor, C Hearne, Q Saunders.
E Kelly for B O’Connor (44), M Codd for Walsh (50), L Pender for Saunders (59).
Peter Burke (Kilkenny).
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