Friday 20 July 2018

Conor McDonald on song for Wexford

Wexford 1-20 Antrim 1-8

Wexford's Conor McDonald jubilant after the game
Wexford's Conor McDonald jubilant after the game
Antrim's Donal O'Hara in action against Wexford's Cathal Dunbar
Wexford's Conor McDonald in action against Antrim's Maoi Connolly

Jackie Cahill

Conor McDonald produced a moment of individual brilliance as Wexford advanced to next month's Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland under 21 hurling final.

In the Leinster championship victory over Offaly, McDonald's moment of magic set up Cathal Dunbar for a goal that went viral on social media. And he was at it again in Thurles with an impudent flick that placed Conor Devitt for Wexford's second half goal against Antrim.

The Saffrons provided dogged resistance but Wexford had too much craft and cruised through to the September 12 decider.

Antrim finished with 14 players when Damon McMullan was dismissed for a second bookable offence at the death.

They had shocked Wexford at this stage of the competition two years ago but their manager, Kevin Ryan, didn't fancy his team's chances much this time around.

Waterford native Ryan predicted a "massive hiding" for the Saffrons in his final game in charge of the county. That never really materialised but Wexford won pulling up to put themselves within touching distance of a first All-Ireland U21 crown since 1965.

Conscious of trying to keep it as tight as possible, Ryan deployed his wing forwards Maoi Connolly and Michael Dudley as sweepers to provide extra cover.

Wexford, despite registering 13 of their 19 wides in the first half, did pretty much as they pleased but it still took them 17 minutes to register a score from play in the first half.

At half-time, Wexford were 0-8 to 0-3 clear and on the front foot quickly after half-time. After Padraig Foley's point, McDonald created Devitt's goal and it was a thing of beauty. Christy McNaughton stole in for a consolation goal with nine minutes left.

Scorers - Antrim: C McNaughton 1-2 (0-2f), E Campbell 0-2, S McCaughan (f), R McCambridge, D McMullan & M Connolly 0-1 each. Wexford: C McDonald 0-7 (4f, 1 65, 1 sl), C Devitt 1-2, T French 0-3, A Kenny, K Foley & C Dunbar 0-2 each, P Foley & S Kenny 0-1 each. 

Antrim: C Heyden; T Ó'Ciaráin, T Burns, D O'Hara; G Walsh, E Campbell, R McCambridge; J Connolly, D McMullan; M Connolly, C McNaughton, M Dudley; P McBride, S McCaughan, J O'Connell. Subs: C Ross for J Connolly (43), D Traynor for McBride (47), D Murphy for O'Connell (50).

Wexford: O O'Leary; S Donohoe, L Ryan, E Conroy; J White, P Foley, J O'Connor; C Devitt, T French; A Kenny, K Foley, J Cash; C Dunbar, C McDonald, P Sutton. Subs: J Firman for Cash (49), S Murphy for Sutton (49), Sam Kenny for A Kenny (53), L McDonald for O'Connor (53), Sean Kenny for K Foley (60).

Referee: S Cleere (Kilkenny)

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