Sunday 22 September 2019

It's an absolute killer to get caught in the end - Fitzgerald

Dublin 1-22 Wexford 2-19

Dublin’s players jump for joy after Sean Moran’s late goal earns them a draw with Wexford. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin’s players jump for joy after Sean Moran’s late goal earns them a draw with Wexford. Photo: Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

As we nodded in agreement that we'd witnessed the best match of the hurling summer in Parnell Park yesterday and signed off on another mid-May exit for Dublin from the Leinster Championship, Seán Moran stood deep in concentration over a 20-metre free.

Mark Fanning was hunched and ready. The other six players on the line appeared to have every inch of the Wexford goalmouth covered with either body or stick.

He couldn't. Could he?

"We're delighted to get the draw at the last puck of the game," said Mattie Kenny after Moran, in a similar scenario to the 2018 drawn All-Ireland club final for Cuala, came up trumps for Kenny again.

"It hit the ground," Davy Fitzgerald noted ruefully. When you hit the ground, anything is liable to happen."

"Mark was out front. Mark was there. He'll be disappointed. You want your best shot-stopper and he's one of the best in the country."

Eamon Dillon of Dublin battles against Paudie Foley, left, and Liam Óg McGovern of Wexford. Photo: Sportsfile
Eamon Dillon of Dublin battles against Paudie Foley, left, and Liam Óg McGovern of Wexford. Photo: Sportsfile

Davy wasn't quite sure which emotion to embrace as he reflected on the game. In the end, settled for defiance in the face of disappointment.

"The way we played for 20 minutes, I don't think any team in the country would touch us," he reckoned.

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"It's a killer to get caught in the end, an absolute killer."

And so Dublin's season lives.

Shane Barrett of Dublin in action against Matthew OHanlon of Wexford. Photo: Sportsfile
Shane Barrett of Dublin in action against Matthew OHanlon of Wexford. Photo: Sportsfile

Having to beat Carlow and Galway isn't ideal, but as Moran stood over that last free with 75 minutes on the clock, Kenny would have taken your arm off if you'd offered it to him.

"But, I suppose the feeling of the players and the feeling of ourselves was, we were in a winning position halfway through the second half," Kenny said.

After 63 minutes of what was a tense and immensely tactical battle, Dublin led by five points.

That was the moment at which Paul Ryan had a goal chance set up for him after Liam Rushe fetched a high delivery from Tomás Connolly.

"If that ball had gone in," Kenny reckoned, "it was game over."

Yet the concession of two goals, scored by Liam Óg McGovern and Rory O'Connor, meant that for the second time in eight days Dublin had squandered a five-point lead.

Last week in Nowlan Park, Kenny bemoaned his team veering from their game plan and reverting to sending long balls out of defence. Here, Dublin were twice turned over attempting to methodically work the ball from their own back line.

"We hadn't much of an option because at some stages, Wexford played with two sweepers," Kenny explained.

"Hitting it long wasn't an option. When you come up against a system like that, you have to be able to play it out from the back. It's something that we've just got to get players comfortable with."

First, Dublin were punished after Moran's heavy touch from Seán Moran after winning the ball in front of his man hopped unkindly. Wexford worked the ball laterally to McGovern, who fired through a thicket of bodies into the roof of Alan Nolan's net.

Then, six minutes later, a slightly over-hit pass from Chris Crummey was snatched by Wexford who again, switched the play right.

This time O'Connor finished and Dublin looked buried.

"Our guys kept plugging away and they got their just rewards at the finish," Kenny added.

"It's in our own hands but nothing less than two wins will get us through."

SCORERS - Dublin: P Ryan 0-10 (7f, 1 '65); S Moran 1-2 (1-1f); C Boland 0-3; T Connolly, C Boland 0-2 each; C Crummey, F Whitely, E Dillon 0-1 each. Wexford: L Chin 0-11 (8f, 2 65); L Óg McGovern 1-1; R O'Connor 1-0; C McDonald (2 s/l); S Murphy 0-3 each; A Nolan 0-1.

DUBLIN - A Nolan 6; T Connolly 7, E O'Donnell 8, P Smyth 8; S Barrett 7, S Moran 7, C Crummey 7; S Treacy 6, D Sutcliffe 6; C Boland 7, C Keaney 7, E Dillon 7; F Whitely 6, L Rushe 6, P Ryan 7. Subs: D Treacy 6 for Keaney (49), J Malone 6 for Boland (60), C Conway 5 for S Treacy (63), R Hayes 6 for Whitely (67)

WEXFORD - M Fanning 7; D Reck 6, L Ryan 7, S Donohoe 6; P Foley 7, M O'Hanlon 6, A Nolan 5; K Foley, S Murphy 8; D O'Keeffe 7, L Chin 8, L Óg McGovern 7; C McDonald 6, J O'Connor 5, R O'Connor 6. Subs: C Dunbar 6 for Nolan (54), D Dunne 6 for McDonald (66), H Kehoe 6 for J O'Connor (67), S Reck 6 for Murphy (73)

REF - F Horgan (Tipperary).

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