Tuesday 20 February 2018

First half goals see Dublin comprehensively rout Wexford to set up Kilkenny clash

Dublin 2-19 Wexford 0-12

Michael Verney

First-half goals from Eamon Dillon and Darragh O'Connell sent Dublin on their way to a Leinster semi-final meeting with reigning All-Ireland champions Kilkenny after trouncing Wexford at a rain-soaked Croke Park tonight.

Ger Cunningham's Dubs never looked back after Dillion's 17th minute major and were never in danger when former Kerry hurler O'Connell hit their second in the dying moments of the opening half.

With Man-of-the-Match Niall McMorrow causing Wexford further torment and 11 different players on the score-sheet, Dublin powered on in the closing 35 minutes to outscore a limp Wexford side 0-9 to 0-4.

Cunningham will be pleased with the clinical nature of the performance but Wexford didn't present the expected challenge and Liam Dunne will be bitterly disappointed with his young side.

Fielding six of last year's All-Ireland U-21 runners-up and with Lee Chin, Andrew Shore, David Redmond and Sean Murphy all sidelined, they never got into the game and now face a long wait until the qualifiers.

Both sides took time to acclimatise to the challenging conditions but Liam Óg McGovern and McMorrow traded early scores before David Treacy and David "Dotsy" O'Callaghan sent over a point each.

Conor McDonald levelled with a brace of frees and Harry Kehoe sent the Model men ahead when capitalising on a misplaced puck-out to fire over. McMorrow and McDonald swapped scores and Wexford led 0-5 to 0-4 after a quarter of an hour.

But the game would turn quickly with Dillon's goal. The in-form attacker poached the sliotar from his marker Liam Ryan, who had lost his hurl, before racing through and scooping the sliotar past Conor O'Leary to the net.

Dillon opening up the Wexford defence like the Red Sea was a sign of things to come and Treacy followed up with two frees before Mark Schutte extended the gap to five.

McGovern broke a ten-minute dry spell for his side with the first of two quick-fire points, followed by a McDonald effort, but Treacy replied with a trio of frees before O'Connell banged in another goal.

A dangerous delivery from Dillon was gathered by Schutte but schoolboy Wexford defending saw three men swarm around the Cuala forward, who fed the unmarked O'Connell, who fired an unstoppable shot to the net as Dublin led 2-10 to 0-8 at the break.

In their first Leinster championship appearance in Croke Park since 2008, Dunne's Wexford side showed some fight early in the second period but couldn't get any closer than six points. Barring McGovern and McDonald, their attack malfunctioned.

McDonald's 52nd minute free left them trailing 2-12 to 0-12 and a late rally was expected. It didn't materialise, however, and that would be their final score of the game.

Chris Bennett, Paul Ryan, Daire Plunkett and the returning Ryan O'Dwyer, who was back to his usual combative self, sent over further scores as the Dubs coasted to victory in front of an attendance of 13,066.

The Dubs, who last won provincial honours in 2013, will need to move into different gears than we saw today when they meet the Cats but their championship campaign is off to a smooth start.

SCORERS – Dublin D Treacy 0-8f (7f, 1 '65), N McMorrow 0-4, E Dillon and D O'Connell 1-0 each, J McCaffrey, P Ryan, C Bennett, R O'Dwyer, D Plunkett, M Schutte and D O'Callaghan 0-1 each – Wexford – C McDonald 0-6 (4f), L Óg McGovern 0-4, H Kehoe and E Moore ('65) 0-1 each.

DUBLIN –C Dooley; E O'Donnell, C O'Callaghan, O Gough; C Crummey, L Rushe, S Barrett; D O'Connell, J McCaffrey; D Plunkett, N McMorrow, D Treacy; M Schutte; D O'Callaghan, M Schutte, E Dillon. Subs: O O'Rorke for M Schutte (BS 8), M Schutte for O O'Rorke (BS 9), R O'Dwyer for D O'Connell (56), C Bennett for M Schutte (60), P Schutte for J McCaffrey (69), O O'Rorke for D O'Callaghan (70), P Ryan for E Dillon (71).

WEXFORD – C O'Leary; L Ryan, M O'Hanlon, E Conroy; E Moore, P Foley, D O'Keeffe; J O'Connor, A Kenny; H Kehoe; P Morris, D Dunne; L Óg McGovern; C McDonald, P Doran. Subs: C Dunbar for A Kenny (ht), I Byrne for P Morris (47), E Martin for E Moore (66).

REF – F Horgan (Tipperary).

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