Thursday 20 June 2019

Goal an 'absolute killer'

Hurlers held to draw after Dublin hit net from last puck

Dublin forward Eamon ‘Trollier’ Dillon (15) leads their celebrations after the last-gasp equalising goal in Parnell Park on Sunday
Dublin forward Eamon ‘Trollier’ Dillon (15) leads their celebrations after the last-gasp equalising goal in Parnell Park on Sunday

Brendan Furlong

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald described it as 'an absolute killer' to get caught in the end by Dublin's equalising goal in Sunday's drawn Leinster Senior hurling championship clash in Parnell Park, Donnycarney.

Wexford had fought back from five points adrift in the second-half to go three clear through an exceptional Lee Chin point off the left sideline as the game moved into additional time.

Tipperary referee Fergal Horgan, who had a fine game in charge, alotted five minutes of additional time, but it looked as if Wexford were about to hold firm with the clock ticking down on that fifth minute.

With the Wexford crowd baying for the final whistle, Dublin launched one final attack and big full-forward Liam Rushe won possession and was fouled to the right of the big 'D' as he tried to cut in on goal, leaving Horgan with no option but to award a 21-metre free.

Dublin defender Seán Moran stepped up to the free as Mark Fanning took up position in front of a lined goal.

The Cuala clubman, as he had done in the All-Ireland Club final last year, drove his shot low, with the ball bouncing in front of Fanning, and somehow having taken on a life of its own it squeezed through the legs of several players to find its way to the back of the net.

As Dublin players celebrated the great escape to keep their championship alive, having lost to Kilkenny the previous weekend, their Wexford counterparts were left stunned to see what looked like certain victory snatched from their grasp, as referee Horgan immediately called full-time.

Leaving the disappointment of conceding that late goal to one side, Wexford would still have to be happy coming out of Parnell Park with a draw.

Three to four years back they were annihilated by Dublin, while last year it took a late Kilkenny goal to give them a victory at the Donnycarney venue.

Reflecting on the 21-metre free, Fitzgerald - still coming to terms having lost the game so late - said: 'Mark was out in front. He'll be disappointed. You want your best shot-stopper in front and he's the best in the country.

'He was out in front but somehow the ball eluded him and the lined goal. They are all devastated inside there, they are blaming themselves.

'Look, we played in patches. When we stood to our gameplan we destroyed them. When we play like that not many sides would live with us.

'Perhaps the sluggish part can be attributed to the two-month lay-off without a game, so this game will stand to us for Galway.

'We are not in a bad spot. During the course of that game the stats show we created six goal chances, but tactically Dublin are a very good side.'

The make-up of the round-robin series will lead to an intense final series of games, with the most likely outcome not being decided until the final round, when Wexford host Kilkenny, having played Carlow seven days earlier, while Dublin will have Galway in Parnell Park, having also played Carlow in Netwatch Cullen Park.

Looking ahead to Galway, Fitzgerald is confident of a huge showing.

'This game will stand to us and should have a huge difference on our consistency over the 70 minutes.

'We'll re-group on Wednesday evening, have a team talk, a light training session, and set out our stall.

'At the moment I don't think there's any injury concern but we'll know more when we re-group. Paul Morris will have an extra week, so should be back in the running for some game time. There's still a lot of hurling to be played.'

Wexford will once again be underdogs going into battle in Salthill but they should take some confidence from this game with them, leaving the visitors with a real chance of causing another championship shock.

Enniscorthy Guardian