Saturday 23 September 2017

Guiney holds nerve to foil Dubs with last-gasp leveller

DUBLIN 1-17 WEXFORD 1-17

Tomas Waters and Eoin Moore tackle Conor McCormack
Tomas Waters and Eoin Moore tackle Conor McCormack

DAMIAN LAWLOR in Wexford Park

A THRILLING draw to spark some bit of fire into this year's slow-burning hurling championship.

Last night's clash between Dublin and Wexford involved two teams desperate for a win. The game featured countless wides, mistakes, fumbles and misses but it was entertaining and intense and leaves both sides with much to play for ahead of the replay, at Parnell Park at 7.0 on Saturday.

The sides were level three times as the game wore on but Dublin hit 14 wides and they'll rue a stat like that. Wexford were bossed out of it in the first half but managed to stay afloat until they stormed into the game after the restart. They can thank Jack Guiney, Rory Jacob and Gareth Sinnott for their scores, while the defence played well as a unit.

Dublin's backs were strong throughout, and Joey Boland's free-taking was mostly sublime.

Wexford made seven personnel and 13 positional changes to the team named. Dublin lined out without any personnel changes but they did drop Conal Keaney into the half-back line and moved Liam Rushe to wing-back. They totally dominated this sector but the downside was their presence in attack was missed.

Wexford defended with the sun in their eyes; not the ideal scenario for goalkeeper Mark Fanning to make his championship debut. The tone was set from the start. Wexford found it very hard to feed their dangerous looking inside forward line. Winning primary ball was a task that they found difficult further out the field. To make life tougher, the home side gave away seven first-half frees and Boland, who started at centre-forward, pointed six of them.

Dublin looked very impressive early on. Their touch was better; they crowded out Wexford all over the pitch and saw a lot more of the ball. Their only problem was they could never stretch more than four points ahead of their rivals.

Liam Dunne made his first change after 21 minutes, bringing dual player Lee Chin into the action. With Guiney coming into the game – and looking sharp from frees – they reduced the margin to two points, and finally the home support in a crowd of 8,000 had something to roar about.

From then on, the players seemed to lift their game and they made a few blocks, hooks and long-range clearances which got the crowd even more behind them.

Guiney's goal on the half-hour mark put them a point ahead – definitely against the run of play. It was a lovely finish from the Rathnure man but the graft was put in by Eoin Quigley to set him up.

Dublin manager Anthony Daly must have been exasperated on the line – he saw Ryan O'Dwyer leave the field twice with a blood injury and they also shot six wides; neither did much to help momentum. Still, they are an experienced side; they regained their composure to lead by a point at the break, 0-12 to 1-8.

Wexford varied their puck-outs from the restart and Harry Kehoe put them level after 37 minutes. Chin's arrival gave Dunne's men more mobility around the middle of the park.

Although Dublin, through Boland's free-taking, led by a point by the 45th minute, Daly started making changes – he replaced both David Treacy and Dotsy O'Callaghan as he sought to extract more from his attack. But instead they lost their composure as Wexford tore into every tackle with gusto. In front of our eyes they went up a gear and lovely points from play from Guiney and Jacob put them two points ahead.

For once, the excellent Boland was wide with a close-range free, his first miss of the evening. When Chin broke through the Dubs defence moments later, he should have tapped over the bar. Instead, he went for goal but Gary Maguire blocked. Chin saw another point chance blaze wide soon after. Dublin, meanwhile, were off target with another two efforts. All this in a frenetic three-minute spell.

They dropped a few balls short too, and each time debutant Fanning was up to the task. With 10 minutes to go the game was in the melting pot. Mistakes were made on both sides but the honesty could not be doubted. Wexford looked the likelier as Dunne urged his players to finish in style. They didn't do that, shooting six wides as the game drew to a close, but Dublin were equally wasteful, hitting six as well.

Sinnott's marvellous long-range score from midfield pushed the home side three points ahead but Michael Carton's reply was the Dubs' first score for 18 minutes.

Then Eamon Dillon goaled near the end after superb spadework from Mark Schutte. It was a fine stroke to the net. Down the field, though, went Wexford with another leveller from the hard-working and effective Sinnott. Paul Ryan put Daly's men in front again, but with time up it was fitting that Guiney hit the equaliser once more with a free just inside the '45'.

Diarmuid Kirwan, the man in the middle, scarcely played a minute's injury-time. In fact, he blew up straight away. It was only fair.

Scorers – Wexford: J Guiney 1-8 (0-6f), G Sinnott 0-4, R Jacob 0-3, H Kehoe, P Doran 0-1 each. Dublin: J Boland 0-9 (8f), D Sutcliffe 0-3, E Dillon 1-0, M Carton 0-2, C McCormack, S Durkin, P Ryan 0-1 each.

Wexford: M Fanning; E Moore, T Waters, K Rossiter; R Kehoe, A Shore, C Kenny; H Kehoe, C O'Shaughnessy; G Sinnott, E Quigley, D Redmond; R Jacob, P Doran, J Guiney. Subs: L Chin for C O'Shaughnessy, P Morris for E Quigley, PJ Nolan for H Kehoe, G Moore for P Doran.

Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte; M Carton, C Keaney, S Durkin; J McCaffrey, J Boland; C McCormack, R O'Dwyer, D Sutcliffe; D O'Callaghan, D Treacy. Subs: E Dillon for D Treacy, P Ryan for D O'Callaghan, S Lambert for S Durkin, R Trainor for P Schutte, M Schutte for C McCormack.

Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).

Irish Independent

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