Thursday 21 November 2019

Model men see off Saffrons in 'most negative' showdown

Wexford 1-20 Antrim 1-8

Wexford's Conor Devitt attempts to drive past Michael Dudley
Wexford's Conor Devitt attempts to drive past Michael Dudley
Conor McDonald, Wexford, accelerates through Antrim's Maoi Connolly, left, and Michael Dudley
Conor Devitt, Wexford, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal Newsdesk Newsdesk

It's fair to say that Wexford manager JJ Doyle wasn't too impressed by Antrim's tactics in Saturday's Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling semi-final at Semple Stadium.

In their quest to avoid a drubbing in Thurles, the Saffrons set up with not one but two sweepers against Wexford.

Wing-forwards Maoi Connolly and Michael Dudley were withdrawn deep to provide extra cover and the system used by departing Antrim boss Kevin Ryan contributed to a spectacle that was a tough watch.

Doyle said: "It was probably the most negative game I have ever seen.

"It would probably put some football games in a good light.

"We knew it would be defensive, we didn't think it would be that defensive.

"But then, at times, our use of possession out of defence played into their hands.

"We were playing ball down the middle when we had spoken about not doing that."

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But Wexford still had more than enough to get the job done, avoiding a repeat of their shock 2013 defeat in the process.


Doyle admitted: "Up until half-time, there was always that fear. We prepared well for it. There was a couple of the lads here two years ago, the others have certainly heard about it enough.

"There is always that fear among young lads when people are telling them they are going to give the other team a hiding, when the opposition manager is saying Wexford are going to give Antrim a hiding.

"It is very hard to listen to that and not be affected by it."

Wexford were 0-8 to 0-3 clear at half-time before Conor McDonald's glorious handpass placed Conor Devitt in for Wexford's goal.

Antrim snuck in for a goal of their own nine minutes from time but lost Damon McMullan to a second yellow card at the death.

Doyle also confirmed after the game that Gavin Bailey, a key man for Wexford throughout the Leinster championship, will miss the rest of the season after sustaining cruciate knee ligament damage on club duty.

Tony French came in and scored three fine points as Wexford cruised to victory.

scorers - 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 McNaughton 1-2 (0-2f), E Campbell 0-2, S McCaughan (f), R McCambridge, D McMullan, M Connolly 0-1 each.

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), S Kelly for A Kenny (53), L McDonald for O'Connor (53), S Kenny for K Foley (60).

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).

ref - S Cleere (Kilkenny).

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