Sunday 18 March 2018

Conor McDonald breaks down Wexford's 'samba hurling' goal of the year

Wexford hurler Conor McDonald
Wexford hurler Conor McDonald

Michael Verney

There are times when you're watching something and you realise you might just be part of something special. Such was the sensation for anyone in attendance or tuning in to TG4 for Wexford's Leinster U-21 semi-final with Offaly in O'Connor Park in June.

With a string of senior fixtures failing to live up to the hype, the U-21 championship was the shining light of the hurling year with the stars of tomorrow playing with a unique style and panache.

And it was in Tullamore where the frontrunner for goal of the year shocked everyone. Offaly's Matthew Maloney had a goal chance at one end but his effort was smothered by goalkeeper Oliver O'Leary.

He flicked the ball to Eoin Conroy who drove long from his hand. Then the move got exciting with Kevin Foley's excellent one-handed overhead flick setting up a smart pass to Conor McDonald.

With the deftest of touches, the star forward set Cathal Dunbar on his way and he finished with aplomb to put the perfect seal on the perfect goal. 2014 All-Star nominee McDonald remembers the goal fondly.

Speaking at the draw for the 2016 Fitzgibbon Cup draw yesterday in Croke Park, McDonald, who made senior debut while still a minor, was full of praise for manager JJ Doyle's openness to creativity.

"A lot of the U-21 this year was based on instinct and JJ was very lenient on whatever way we wanted to hurl. We could try stuff out and he was encouraging us to express ourselves," the 20-year-old said.

"He was allowing that and he wasn't too rigid on how the game should be played and always doing the simple things. The ball came to me and I got whatever touch I could on it.

"It worked out pretty well for Cathal and to be fair, if he didn't finish it no one would have said anything about it so that was the most important part of it.

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