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Dubs to get momentum

ANTHONY Daly made a good point in an interview with this newspaper during the week.

"I would be laughing at fellas saying to you, 'ah, sure you should beat Wexford,'" he said. "Jesus, four years ago when we beat them, there was unbridled joy down below in Nowlan Park."

Just four years ago it was, that Dublin – finally after so many near misses and broken hearts – got over their Wexford hoodoo on a day when famously, amid all the outpouring of joy and yes, tears in the Dublin dressing-room, a perplexed rookie named Liam Rushe turned to Kevin Flynn and asked what the fuss was all about, wasn't it only Wexford?

Since then, you couldn't but argue that the teams have chartered different paths yet found themselves in the same Division this year when Dublin, stung by a second-half fadeout to Limerick in Croke Park, arrived to Wexford Park in urgent need of a win to keep promotion afloat and duly beat Liam Dunne's men by 13 points.

Relevance to tomorrow? Little or none. And that is precisely why the Dublin hurling fraternity have been increasingly fidgety as this week has worn on.

Perhaps it's that their most recent viewing of Dublin was that League semi-final disaster in Thurles. Or maybe it's that Wexford have been very quiet of late. A little too quiet, as the saying goes.

Dublin spent several days in a camp training in Cork and playing challenge matches against both Clare and Galway and are said to have gone well in both.

Moreover, Anthony Daly has, by some distance, the highest level of rude health amongst his squad in quite some time, so really, a win here should raise a little optimism around the group again.

And at first glance, it's hard to see how Daly could have picked a stronger team for tonight's match, even if the absence of Paul Ryan ranks as something of a curiosity.

LEADERSHIP

Niall Corcoran – used sparingly in the League as he came back from a ostheitis pubis injury – was always likely to force his way back in, given his experience, strength (particularly in a full-back line who were thrown around like rag dolls by the Tipp inside forwards) and leadership qualities.

There must, surely, have been strong claims from Stephen Hiney for inclusion at this point too but what's more important is that Dublin decide on whether Paul Schutte or Peter Kelly are playing full-back and stick to it.

Martin Quilty was another thought to be in the running but has probably missed too much hurling to go straight into a team that, to be absolutely fair, played some decent fair this spring while Niall McMorrow can probably be considered a smidgeon unlucky not to have made the final draft.

Where they line out is another issue entirely.

Danny Sutcliffe, for instance, did a lot of his best hurling in the League semi-final in midfield while Johnny McCaffrey – listed to start there – played almost all of his League fare at centre-forward.

Is Liam Rushe now Dublin's first-choice centre-back? Will Conal Keaney played on the edge of the square or Ryan O'Dwyer a better candidate for that particular brief?

It's hard to tell, given Dublin's total lack of exposure since the League semi-final but if they are coming in somewhere under the radar, Wexford are entering tonight's match representing not even a minute blip on anyone's hurling skyline.

It's not so long ago since Liam Dunne effectively ruled out Lee Chin's hopes of playing both codes for Wexford this year but that is precisely what he will attempt to do within the space of less than 24 hours this weekend and from the hurlers' point of view, they will be thankful their match with Dublin falls first.

Dublin hurling supporters will be forewarned too of Andrew Shore, the Parnell's man who has been named at full-back and who, in the 2010 Leinster Under-21 final in Parnell Park, was Man of the Match, despite Dublin's eventual victory.

COUP

But with the likes of Keith Rossiter, Eoin Quigley and Stephen Nolan on the bench, could anyone be entirely certain the XV named by Dunne will be the actual team?

If Wexford do pull off a shock here, it would represent a major coup and go against all the current thinking of the Slaneysiders.

For Dublin, it would be the extension of an only recently acquired Indian sign over a team who once routinely inflicted misery but more importantly, it would generate a mite of momentum, a much-needed commodity with Kilkenny most likely on the horizon.

It will be tight and Dublin won't have it their own way but if they stay calm and finish well, it should be the result they're expecting.

Wexford: N Breen; B Kenny, A Shore, C Kenny; E Moore, R Kehoe, E Martin; H Kehoe, L Chin; J Guiney, G Sinnott, D Redmond; P Morris, R Jacob, G Moore.

Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, P Schutte; M Carton, L Rushe, S Durkin; J McCaffrey, J Boland; C McCormack, R O'Dwyer, D Sutcliffe; D O'Callaghan, C Keaney, D Treacy.

ODDS: Wexford 14/5, Draw 12/1, Dublin 1/3

VERDICT: Dublin


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