Rock-solid Dublin hit back to grab draw
Wexford 2-6 Dublin 0-12
It’s the year when Dublin will be sent on the road in the championship for the first time in a decade.
In Enniscorthy yesterday, the Sky Blue faithful seemed to be quite enthused about a summer of road trips as they comfortably outnumbered the home support in St Patrick’s Park.
The Dublin players took slightly longer to warm to the task. Starting with just three of the side that took to the field in Croke Park last September in Denis Bastick, Paddy Andrews and Dean Rock, Jim Gavin’s men took their time to find their feet.
At half-time they trailed by seven points as Wexford found their groove much earlier. Goals from an Adrian Flynn penalty and Ben Brosnan set them on their way to a dominant first-half performance.
For their part, Dublin struggled. Even Dean Rock, normally so reliable from placed balls, couldn’t convert a penalty.
Gavin responded at half-time by calling for two more heavyweights. James McCarthy replaced Bastick who ended speculation about his future by starting at midfield, while Philly McMahon was also introduced.
McMahon’s afternoon didn’t last long as he was soon sent on his way with a black card but McCarthy did more than anyone to bring the game – which was being played with the new M Donnelly football – back Dublin’s way.
Dublin would dominate the second half but some dogged Wexford defending and difficult conditions meant scores were hard to come by.
It was the 65th minute before they got level. Dean Rock, who was to the fore in Dublin’s revival, boomed over the equalising score. The considerable travelling support found their voice at this stage and the game looked to be going only one way from there.
Still, the home side had shown an ability to break out from under Dublin pressure but on too many occasions their shooting was poor. But when they fashioned another chance it fell to the experienced PJ Banville. He split the posts with less than three minutes to play. It was David Power’s side’s first point of the half and it looked like it might be enough to sneak the win.
But these days Dublin are nothing if not composed. They surged forward but when Rock gathered possession it looked like he’d try to work possession closer to the goal. Instead, he boomed over from more than 45 metres to secure the draw for Dublin.
“I think it was great endeavour from both teams for this time of the season,” Dublin manager Gavin said afterwards. “Wexford put in a very impressive first-half performance, and likewise we did in the second half.
“To be seven down, I thought the guys showed great composure there and great spirit for this time of the year. We just went back in camp yesterday morning so it was a good weekend’s work.”
Jim Gavin stated afterwards that he would continue to work off the same panel for the remainder of the tournament as they prepare to take on IT Carlow in Parnell Park on Wednesday night and DCU next weekend.
And while the Dubs won this competition last year, Gavin stressed that looking at some of the county’s lesser-known players was the priority in January.
“That (winning the O’Byrne Cup) would be nice if that happens, but it’s really about giving players opportunities and letting them experience senior inter-county football and playing other inter-county teams,” he said.
“Even against IT Carlow and DCU, there’s plenty of strength in their teams to challenge them. So it’s really about bringing players in, saying hello, and giving them an opportunity, and who knows where it will take them? If we get an extra two games, it will certainly be bonus territory.”
And while Gavin was dealt a blow with the news that Rory O’Carroll won’t be available this year, he confirmed that his Kilmacud Crokes clubmate Paul Mannion is back with the squad.
Wexford welcome DCU to Enniscorthy on Wednesday with Power pleased from what he saw from his side.
“We’re starting off in Division 4,” Power said.
“We’re way better organised going forward and that’s a great start. I know Dublin are only back training or whatever but it’s a great, positive start for us.
“We worked very hard. I know they probably took over in the second half but overall I think we can be very positive. I suppose we dropped four or five balls into the ’keeper’s hands in the second half.
“That was just pure tiredness. It’s still pre-season and look to not concede a goal against Dublin is very positive for us.”
SCORERS – Wexford: A Flynn (1-0 pen), B Brosnan 1-1 each, K Rowe, R Vallejo, K O’Grady, PJ Banville 0-1 each. Dublin: D Rock 0-6 (2f), P Andrews, S Carthy, J Whelan, C Costello, C Reddin, C O’Callaghan 0-1.
Dublin – M Savage; E Culligan, J Curley, C Mulally; N Devereux, J Small, M Concarr; D Bastick, C Reddin; J Whelan, D Rock, S Carthy; C Costello, P Andrews, C O’Callaghan.
Subs: G Hannigan for Devereux (11), J McCarthy for Bastick, P McMahon for Concarr (both h-t), N Scully for Culligan (46), A Caffrey for McMahon (55 BC), N Walsh for O’Callaghan (57), M MacDonncha for Whelan (Blood 64).
Wexford – A Masterson; J Connor, R Vallejo, N Rossiter; B Malone, S Donohue, K Butler; C Kehoe, G Malone; N Hughes, A Flynn, K O’Grady; B Brosnan, J Carty, K Rowe.
Subs: T Rossiter for Malone (14 BC), PJ Banville for Butler (43), S Ryan for Brosnan (45), S Doyle for Connor (55), P O’Connor for Hughes (68)
Ref – J Hickey (Carlow)