Monday 16 September 2019

Ciaran Kilkenny and Brian Fenton impress as Dublin cruise to 23-point win over Wicklow

Dublin 4-25 Wicklow 1-11

Ciaran Kilkenny of Dublin shoots to score his side's third goal of the game
Ciaran Kilkenny of Dublin shoots to score his side's third goal of the game

Conor McKeon

BY half-time in Portlaoise today, we were rummaging through record books, though they weren't required by the end.

No-one came to O'Moore Park today in any doubt that Dublin would beat Wicklow.

All that was uncertain was the margin by which they would do so and whether it might be record worthy.

Last year, they beat Westmeath by 31 points in the Leinster semi-final, their highest summer winning total under Jim Gavin in a competition that has long since ceased to provide them with any competition.

And by the time Ciarán Kilkenny and Con O'Callaghan scored goals with Dublin's last two attacks of the first half here in front of 11,796 spectators, the mind even wandered back to 1979.

Mick O'Dwyer's Kerry scored 9-21 to Clare's 1-9 in a Munster Championship game in Miltown Malbay that year – an infamous 36-point obliteration later dubbed 'The Miltown Massacre.'

Eric Lowndes of Dublin is tackled by Kevin Murphy of Wicklow
Eric Lowndes of Dublin is tackled by Kevin Murphy of Wicklow

By half-time today against John Evans' team, Dublin were half way to equaling that margin – 18 points up and strolling into a Leinster semi-final against Longford, who had only half surprisingly beaten Meath earlier in the afternoon.

As it went, the goals dried up and Dublin won by 23 points without breaking stride, a predictably dominant performance, if not quite the stuff of record book entries.

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Best in show on the day were Ciarán Kilkenny and Brian Fenton.

Kilkenny scored 1-7 in a consummate performance, firstly at centre-forward and then at the edge of the Wicklow square in the second half.

Fenton meanwhile, glided around Portlaoise at his ease, stylishly scoring his first Championship goal for Dublin after eight minutes.

Con O'Callaghan, playing wing-forward in his first start for Dublin since last year's All-Ireland final, also scored 1-3 but also displayed a voracious appetite for work defence for which he was loudly applauded when he was taken off.

Other notable moments for Dublin were Colm Basquel and Eoin Murchan making their Championship debuts as subs while Paul Flynn saw his first action since last September in midfield, where he replaced Michael Darragh Macauley early in the second half.

Somewhat inevitably, Wicklow defended for most of the match with 14 men behind the ball, with Mark Kenny operated the lone man forward.

In fact, in the prelude to Dublin's first point – a free from Dean Rock after two minutes and 34 seconds after Eric Lowndes was fouled – they had all 15 behind the '65.

For Wicklow, James Stafford's goal was the highlight and his menace at the edge of the square required the deployment of James McCarthy at full-back for a spell.

SCORERS – Dublin: C Kilkenny 1-7, C O'Callaghan, B Fenton 1-3 each, D Rock 1-2 (0-2f), P Andrews 0-3, C McHugh (1f) 0-2, P McMahon, MD Macauley, B Howard, P Mannion ('45), C Basquel 0-1 each. Wicklow: J Stafford 1-1, M Jackson (2f), D Hayden, T Smyth 0-2 each, D Healy, R Finn, M Kenny, S Furlong (f) 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; E Lowndes, M Fitzsimons, P McMahon; J McCarthy, J Cooper, B Howard; MD Macauley, B Fenton; N Scully, C Kilkenny, C O'Callaghan; P Mannion, D Rock, P Andrews. Subs: C McHugh for Rock (h-t), E Murchan for Fitzsimons (h-t), P Flynn for Macauley (41), D Daly for Mannion (42), C Basquel for Andrews (48), K McManamon for O'Callaghan (52)

WICKLOW: M Jackson; E Murtagh, R O'Brien, C Hyland; S Kearon, D Healy, J Crowe; R Finn, J Stafford; D Hayden, K Murphy, T Smyth; M Kenny, S Furlong, J McGrath. Subs: C McGee for Murphy (h-t), D Fitzgerald for McGrath (h-t), C Healy for Kearon (50), P Merrigan for Crowe (53), B Kennedy for Stafford (58), D Keane for Smyth (68).

REF: C Branagan (Down)

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