Dublin come up short in injury time again as Wexford claim victory with late flurry of points
Wexford 0-22 Dublin 2-14
A CRAZY end to a full-blooded contest at Innovate Wexford Park ended with the hosts snatching victory at the death while Dublin cursed their second consecutive bout of injury-time heartbreak.
As with seven days ago against Kilkenny, Pat Gilroy's men led entering the realms of stoppage-time – this time after a 69th minute point from sub David Treacy edged their noses back in front.
But Wexford, having surrendered a five-point lead earlier in the half, were not to be denied.
Kevin Foley was fouled under a puckout for Rory O'Connor to tap over for his 11th free of the afternoon. But the Wexford rookie star saved his best 'til last, landing an outrageous lead point, his first from play, from between his own '45' and '65'.
By then the game had edged into its third and last additional minute, but there was still time for Diarmuid O'Keeffe to embark on a brilliant solo-run before offloading to sub Harry Kehoe to apply the coup de grace.
The whistle sounded straight after – it must have sounded like a death knell for the Dubs, whose hopes of qualification for the All-Ireland series now look almost fatally damaged. Indeed, their next home date with Offaly, in two weeks' time, has the look of a relegation shootout.
In truth, Wexford looked to have victory when Kevin Foley restored their five-point cushion in the 55th minute.
But after a Paul Ryan free pared the deficit to four, they took inspiration from a brilliant poacher's goal from Ryan on 61 minutes. Liam Rushe drew them level, then Danny Sutcliffe edged them ahead in the 65th minute.
A hotly disputed touchline free, nervelessly executed by O'Connor restored parity and set up that dramatic finale.
Earlier, the first half was brimful of intensity but equally high on errors and fouls in the scoring zone. This was reflected in the wide count – 10-7 in favour of Wexford – and in the number of converted frees, six for Rory O'Connor and four for Paul Ryan.
Even though Ryan twice gave the visitors an early one-point lead, these were sandwiched by a razor-sharp Lee Chin point while Dublin's tendency to cough up frees was soon proving costly.
O'Connor initially gobbled up every deadball chance that came his way and his third effort gave Wexford a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.
But then Dublin stormed back to parity with the only goal of the half, on 13 minutes. Danny Sutcliffe was the instigator with a penetrating run and offload to Ryan, whose shot was bravely blocked by Liam Ryan - but the ball fell favourably for the onrushing Rian McBride to pull first-time to the net.
The rest of the half swayed both ways, with neither side able to establish firm control.
Beyond the half-hour, Dublin edged in front via a quick-fire brace from Jake Malone and wandering corner-back Paddy Smyth, after which they were indebted to 'keeper Alan Nolan for charging off his line to deny Paul Morris. Two more O''Connor frees restored a tenuous half-time lead for the hosts, 0-10 to 1-6.
SCORERS - Wexford: R O'Connor 0-12 (11f), L Chin, P Foley (1f) 0-2 each, P Morris, J O'Connor, A Nolan, D O'Keeffe, K Foley, H Kehoe 0-1 each.
Dublin: P Ryan 1-7 (6f, 1 '65'), R McBride 1-1, J Malone, P Smyth, C Boland, L Rushe, D Sutcliffe, D Treacy 0-1 each.
WEXFORD: M Fanning; D Reck, L Ryan, S Donohoe; S Murphy; D O'Keeffe, P Foley, M O'Hanlon; K Foley, A Nolan; L Chin, R O'Connor, J O'Connor; P Morris, C McDonald.
Subs: H Kehoe for McDonald (55), C Dunbar for Morris (62).
DUBLIN: A Nolan; P Smyth, C O'Callaghan, B O'Carroll; C Crummey, S Moran, E O'Donnell; J Malone, S Barrett; R McBride, F Mac Gib, D Sutcliffe; F Whitely, L Rushe, P Ryan.
Subs: T Connolly for Barrett (44), C Boland for Whitely (44), D Treacy for O'Carroll (52), R Hayes for McBride (60), P Winters for Mac Gib (70).
REF: C Lyons (Cork)