Friday 31 March 2017

Dunne's depleted Wexford survive goal controversy to move forward

Wexford 1-21 Offaly 1-13 All-Ireland SHC qualifier

Jackie Cahill

Conor McDonald of Wexford in action against Paddy Rigney of Offaly during GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor McDonald of Wexford in action against Paddy Rigney of Offaly during GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 1. Photo: Sportsfile

Liam Dunne has insisted that Wexford would be a "match for anybody" if he was working with a full complement of players.

The Slaneysiders survived a first-half 'goal' controversy at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday to ensure they're in the bowl for this morning's Round 2 qualifier draw.

Whether it's Cork, Clare or Limerick, the step up in class is considerable, and the strength or otherwise of the current squad at manager Dunne's disposal will become truly apparent.

In the Leinster quarter-final defeat to Dublin, Wexford were abject at best - but they showed some of the fighting spirit their manager was renowned for as a player to see off the challenge of a flat Offaly side.

And they came through some adversity too, before producing a stirring second-half display in front of 3,100 spectators.

Wexford played against the breeze in the first half, were five points down by the 18th minute and then had a legitimate goal not given.

Goalkeeper Mark Fanning's 24th-minute penalty rattled the stanchion before rebounding out, but the umpires missed it and referee Johnny Ryan did too, allowing play to continue.

It was an incident GAA chiefs could have done without after the recent Christy Ring Cup Final scoring saga, and the 'seven subs' episode with the Laois footballers.

Instead of feeding into a sense of grievance, Wexford dug in and were just two points behind at half-time, 0-9 to 0-7, with the breeze blowing towards the Town End of the ground favouring them after the interval.

Consolation

A 01-02 burst without reply after the restart, including a 37th-minute Paul Morris goal, turned the tie on its head and Wexford never looked back.

Offaly had David King sent off late on, before sub Oisín Kelly scored a consolation goal.

At the break, Dunne claimed that Fanning's penalty wasn't mentioned.

He said: "I didn't know myself until half-time, when someone said we'd scored a goal.

"And then I just saw some of the supporters getting on to Johnny Ryan coming in, but we just got on with it."

Dunne then listed the men currently not available to him. Andrew Shore and Shane Tomkins both underwent cruciate knee ligament surgery recently, while Aidan Nolan, David Redmond, Shaun Murphy and Liam Ryan are also injured.

Jack Guiney left the panel earlier this year, and Dunne claimed: "If you had everybody available to you at this stage, we'd be a match for anybody.

"People are expecting wonders out of these fellas. I just said it to them in the dressing room that, particularly over the last two years, the transition has been phenomenal.

"You have Keith Rossiter, Rory Jacob, Garrett Sinnott, Tomás Waters - all these guys have retired as well. But when we get everybody back and rowing in the one direction, you'd never know what a Wexford man can do."

Offaly boss Eamonn Kelly, meanwhile, has indicated that he will take some time to consider if he wants a second year in charge.

When asked if he was in it for the long haul, Kelly smiled: "I'm in until 5.30 this evening anyway! I haven't thought past that.

"They mightn't want me here, that's the other thing. I had a huge backroom team, it's not just me, and we'll stand back and take a look at ourselves."

SCORERS - Wexford: C McDonald 0-11 (8f), P Doran 0-4, P Morris 1-0, D O'Keeffe & L Chin (1f) 0-2 each, L Óg McGovern & D Dunne 0-1 each. Offaly: S Dooley 0-7 (6f), O Kelly 1-0, S Kinsella 0-2, P Murphy, S Ryan, J Bergin & P Guinan 0-1 each.

WEXFORD: M Fanning 7; M O'Hanlon 7, J Breen 7, E Moore 7; D O'Keeffe 8, P Foley 7, É Martin 7; J O'Connor 7, E Conroy 6; L Óg McGovern 7, L Chin 8, P Doran 8; P Morris 7, C McDonald 8, D Dunne 8. Subs: H Kehoe 7 for Conroy (55), A Kenny NR for Foley (67), C Dunbar NR for Dunne (68).

OFFALY: J Dempsey 7; N Wynne 6, C McDonald 6, P Rigney 6; S Gardiner 6, D King 5, D Mooney 5; P Murphy 6, S Ryan 7; J Mulrooney 6, J Bergin 6, S Kinsella 7; S Dooley 6, S Cleary 5, K Connolly 6. Subs: B Conneely 6 for Mooney (26), E Nolan 6 for Cleary (29), O Kelly 7 for Connolly (30), D O'Toole-Greene 6 for McDonald (53), P Guinan 6 for Dooley (60).

REF - J Ryan (Tipperary)

Irish Independent

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