THE most impressive side in Leinster over the past three or four years at underage level has been who — Kilkenny? Wrong. It’s Dublin.
At colleges, minor and U21 level, the Dubs have been doing the business and the building consensus in Leinster that it’s only a matter of time before they start to challenge the big boys at big boy level. Could this be the year?
Last year, at the same stage, they were denied at this same venue by the same side, a last-minute long-range free by Barry Lambert gave Wexford the honours by a point. On the day Dublin were definitely unlucky, should have had a draw at least, a fact acknowledged afterwards by a gracious and relieved Wexford contingent.
For this one, Dublin are looking good. In the preliminary round they had a huge win over a competitive Westmeath who had recently won the National League Division Two title.
A scoring burst that yielded 3-7 in the last 15 minutes giving them a comprehensive 3-21 to 0-11 win. Wexford, meanwhile, were on the challenge-match circuit, suffered a few heavy defeats against Limerick and Cork, but did well recently to record a win against under-strength Galway. They haven’t looked at all convincing this year however — not in league or challenge.
This, then, is a great chance for Dublin. In Gary Maguire they have a top-class keeper, in captain Stephen Hines at full-back, Ronan Fallon and Tomás Brady in the half-back line, John McCaffrey in midfield, veteran Kevin Flynn at wing-forward, and David ‘Dotsie’ O’Callaghan at corner-forward, they have players who would grace any starting 15.
Under manager Tommy Naughton they are united, strong, fast, exceptionally fit, well disciplined and fine stickmen. Wexford, by contrast, are going through change with John Meyler giving starts to three new men — Colm Farrell, David Redmond and Stephen Banville. Going with the flow here, an upset that really — outside of Wexford, obviously — won’t be that upsetting. The time has come.
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