Friday 27 April 2018

Dublin dismiss 14-man Wexford

THE DISMISSAL of centre-back Andrew Shore after just seven minutes left an air of inevitability about proceedings in Parnell Park, Donnycarney, on Saturday last as 14-man Wexford went down to Dublin by a predictable eight points in this low-quality Leinster Senior hurling championship quarter-final replay.

Anyone hoping for an improvement in general standard following the mediocre fare in the draw in Wexford Park was left sorely disappointed as this encounter produced precious little of a memorable nature.

It was a fractious, ill-tempered encounter from the off, with Ciarán Kenny the first of all six defenders to earn some form of censure from referee Brian Gavin after just 20 seconds for a swipe at Danny Sutcliffe. Ace free-taker Paul Ryan converted the resultant free as the game took a while to settle down, with Garrett Sinnott and Ryan O'Dwyer hitting tame efforts to the respective rival goalkeepers before Jack Guiney levelled from a placed ball in the fifth minute.

The puck-out which followed from Gary Maguire had a major impact as he sent it straight down the middle towards O'Dwyer, with Andrew Shore catching the centre-forward on the head with a late pull which led to a brief flare-up. When the dust had settled the big number six was shown a straight red card and with it went any real hope Wexford entertained of qualifying for a semi-final clash with Kilkenny on Sunday next.

While there could be few quibbles about that decision, the fact that Dublin forward Conor McCormack was allowed to stay on the field left a bitter after-taste. Prior to this incident he had jabbed Shore in the midriff with the jagged end of a broken hurl, an incident clear to see from my vantage point in the back row of the stand but apparently missed by all of the match officials.

And when the row started after Shore's pull, McCormack played an active role and was lucky to escape with just a yellow card along with full-back Tomás Waters. A grounded Eoin Moore was struck several times before order was restored on a night when Wexford were ironically awarded twice as many frees as Dublin (20-10) given the furore which has developed since over their supposed over-physical approach to the game.

The loss of Shore was a further serious blow to Wexford after Keith Rossiter had cried off with an injury in the warm-up, to be replaced by Bobby Kenny at corner-back, while Dublin had won the toss and elected to play with the wind. Ciarán Kenny moved to centre-back with Lee Chin reverting to the left flank, while David Redmond dropped back to midfield and Paul Morris came out to left half-forward, leaving a two-man inside line of Jack Guiney and Rory Jacob.

Peter Kelly was initially the spare defender for Dublin before that role was handed over to Michael Carton, and they were never headed or matched again once Paul Ryan fired over his second free after the dust had settled following the dismissal.

Ryan O'Dwyer hit a wide from distance before Rory Jacob did well to catch a Richie Kehoe free close to the right sideline and was impeded. However, Guiney's placed ball from a tight angle went wide before the Dubs struck for the only goal in the 13th minute.

The effective Conal Keaney, placed in a far more advantageous role for his team at right half-forward, won a Wexford puck-out after Johnny McCaffrey was off target from a line ball and fired in a delivery which eluded Eoin Moore. The young defender may have been still feeling the effects of those earlier punches, and Paul Ryan ghosted in behind him to leave Mark Fanning with no chance as he tapped the sliothar to the net (1-2 to 0-1).

A Danny Sutcliffe wide followed before Rory Jacob was needlessly fouled when he was confronted by two defenders and Jack Guiney pulled back a point. However, Richie Kehoe's push on Sutcliffe enabled Ryan to convert his third free, with Wexford responding with their sole score from play before the break.

It arrived in the 16th minute as Eoin Quigley and Liam Rushe contested the ball on the ground and neither made a connection, with Garrett Sinnott latching on to it and splitting the posts (1-3 to 0-3).

Dublin replied with their first point from play as Conor McCormack caught the puck-out and handpassed to Johnny McCaffrey who duly obliged. A trip on Paul Morris saw Guiney reduce arrears once more, but that was Wexford's final score of the opening half.

The leaders were labouring despite their numerical advantage, with many aimless passes struck and strange options taken, but they did give themselves the breathing space they needed by hitting five points on the trot before the interval.

Eoin Moore's foul on David Treacy was punished by Paul Ryan before a diving Treacy nearly got a touch on a cross from the right corner by Conor McCormack. Ryan made it 1-6 to 0-4 after David Redmond impeded Ryan O'Dwyer, but the Dubs then hit three wides on the trot and sent another ball short to Mark Fanning before Peter Kelly showed his forwards how to do it after he came upfield for a point shortly after moving out to wing-back to pick up Garrett Sinnott.

After Rory Jacob hit a wide, Wexford were steeped not to end up with 13 men when Sinnott was yellow-carded for a wild pull which caught Kelly on the back of the head. It would have been red if the referee was consistent in his application of the rules since the captain pulled completely against the flight of the incoming ball for an attacker.

Gary Maguire's subsequent long free was caught by Conal Keaney who pointed on the turn, with Jack Guiney sending a placed ball wide from distance before Richie Kehoe entered the notebook after Ryan O'Dwyer ended up on the ground after the pair awaited a line ball.

David Treacy closed the scoring before the break for the Dubs when he received a handpass from Johnny McCaffrey, and it looked like the best we could hope for was damage limitation (1-9 to 0-4).

The leaders introduced Shane Durkin at midfield and dropped Joey Boland back to a defensive role, and they stretched their advantage from a Ryan free after Bobby Kenny dropped the hurl while giving a handpass.

Wexford responded when an off-form Liam Rushe was caught in possession and Paul Morris handpassed to Harry Kehoe for a point, with Conal Keaney missing a handy chance before Jack Guiney sent another free between the posts after Rory Jacob was fouled following indecision between Rushe and Niall Corcoran.

A double substitution was made in the 42nd minute, with P.J. Nolan replacing Eoin Quigley and Paudge Doran coming in for David Redmond, with neither of the two men who left the field playing anywhere their capabilities in either the drawn game or this replay.

While Nolan made no impact and was a big disappointment, Doran did try extremely hard in the two-man inside line with Jacob as Guiney moved out to the right flank. David O'Callaghan then came into the fray for Dublin and when he saw Bobby Kenny running at him for a 'greeting', he reacted by pulling him by the helmet and wrestling him to the ground. Both men were booked before substitute Doran nearly created a much-needed goal in his first involvement.

After doing well to get the ball off Niall Corcoran, he crossed it into the danger zone but netminder Gary Maguire did well to flick it away to safety.

Mark Fanning then made a fine reflex save at the other end to deny David Treacy a goal, with the resultant '65 missed by Paul Ryan.

Guiney sent a free from his own half over the bar after a foul on Harry Kehoe, with Paul Morris going to midfield in a switch with P.J. Nolan who won another long-range free for the Rathnure man which was missed.

Danny Sutcliffe made it 1-11 to 0-7 from a David O'Callaghan handpass before Conal Keaney caught the ball over Lee Chin's head and soloed forward for a fine score with 20 minutes left.

A Garrett Sinnott wide was followed by points for Johnny McCaffrey and David Treacy, the latter after a superb Ryan O'Dwyer pass, with Paudge Doran responding with a crossfield solo score to leave Wexford trailing by 1-14 to 0-8 with 15 minutes to go.

Eoin Moore completed the sextet of defenders in the notebook for a foul on Conal Keaney, with Paul Ryan converting the free. However, Dublin got extremely sloppy around their own half-back line with short handpasses backwards getting them into trouble, and their messing led to three points on the trot from Rory Jacob, Paul Morris and Garrett Sinnott.

Paudge Doran and Jack Guiney were now closest to the opposing goal, with Jacob out on the wing and Sinnott on the '40, while Michael O'Regan came on at centre-back for Harry Kehoe with Ciarán Kenny and Lee Chin reverting to their original positions of left half-back and midfield respectively.

Sinnott and Doran both had half-chances for goals near the end but were denied by vigilant defending, with Paul Morris getting the last point after a Lee Chin handpass before the Dubs finished off a fairly routine victory with late scores from a Paul Ryan '65 and free.

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