Clinical Winters strike helps Dublin secure crowning glory
Paul Winters' 47th-minute goal proved crucial as Dublin triumphed at Croke Park yesterday afternoon to retain their provincial title.
The margin of victory should have been bigger given the manner in which they dominated, especially in the individual aerial contests.
That Wexford remained in contention was largely due to the inefficiencies of Dublin's attack, with 14 wides an unacceptable tally if they wish to go one better than last year and secure the All-Ireland.
The excellent Conor McDonald struck the first score in the third minute with a glorious turn and shot, with Conor McHugh landing an equally classy point to restore parity within two minutes.
Chances arrived thick and fast and Dublin's Cormac Costello managed to tap over. At the opposite end, McDonald was wreaking havoc and when he was dragged to the ground in the 16th minute, captain Andrew Kenny fired an unstoppable shot to the net from a 20-metre free.
The Dubs hit back and Sean Treacy fired a low, precise finish beyond Oliver O'Leary. Wexford replied with points by Kenny and McDonald, but late scores by McHugh and Colm Cronin took them into the break on level terms.
The sides traded scores as the second half progressed before Dublin crucially struck for their second goal 13 minutes from time. A long ball from Sean McClelland was batted down by Oisin O'Rorke into the path of Winters, with the St Brigid's man pulling clinically to the net from close range to leave three points between the sides.
That gap was soon widened by a sumptuous Cian Boland point, with Wexford struggling to escape the shackles of a determined Dublin rearguard.
A Kenny free left Wexford's deficit at two points entering injury-time, but despite the sending off of Eric Lowndes, Dublin closed it out with late Winters and Boland points.
SCORERS -- Dublin: P Winters 1-5 (0-2f, 0-2 '65'), S Treacy 1-1, C McHugh, C Boland 0-3 each, C Costello, O O'Rorke, C Cronin 0-1 each. Wexford: A Kenny 1-3 (1-2f, 0-1 '65'), C McDonald 0-5 (2f), T French 0-3 (3f), J O'Connor, S Kenny, K Foley 0-1 each.
Dublin -- C Mac Gabhann; E Lowndes, C O'Callaghan, S Barrett; S McClelland, R Murphy, E O'Donnell; C Costello, C Cronin; C McHugh, S Treacy, C Conway; C Boland, O O'Rorke, P Winters. Subs: D Gormley for Conway (44), C Bennett for Treacy (51), J Roche for McHugh (61).
Wexford -- O O'Leary; S Doyle, S Murphy, E Conroy; L Ryan, A Kenny, A Roche; C Heffernan, C Devitt; K Foley, S Kenny, J O'Connor; J Broaders, C McDonald, T French. Subs: D Shanley for Heffernan (30), K Ryan for Broaders (35), J Cash for French (51).
Ref -- G Quilty (Kilkenny).