Dublin 0-24 Wexford 0-23
By Ronan Fagan at Chadwicks Wexford Park
Dublin foiled another Wexford salvation act to grab a vital second round victory in Saturday’s Leinster SHC showdown at Chadwicks Wexford Park.
While the Dubs seemed firmly on the road to back-to-back victories when leading 0-20 to 0-14 after 52 minutes, Wexford subsequently went close with a couple of gilt-edged goaling chances before a bunch of Lee Chin frees brought them within inches of claiming another draw.
However, Dublin had 12-point shooter Donal Burke to thank as he cool nerve sends them to Westmeath next weekend with maximum spoils, while Wexford appreciate will need to take care of Laois and Westmeath before their closing round showdown away to Kilkenny to stay in the hunt.
There were shades of Wexford’s struggles against Galway a week earlier as Dublin controlled much of the early proceedings while backed by the strong wind.
A Rory O’Connor free may have drawn first blood for Wexford, but the Sky Blues were soon riding the crest of a wave as Donal Burke (three) helped open-up a 0-7 to 0-2 divide, with full-back Eoghan O’Donnell even getting in on the scoring act.
Rory O’Connor was a thorn in the side of the Dublin defence, and he fired two frees while Connal Flood and Liam Óg McGovern also shaved the difference to 0-8 to 0-6 after 26 minutes.
Dublin continued to hold strong as they maintained a 0-12 to 0-9 edge before counting their lucky stars when Conor McDonald blazed an angled goaling chance wide following terrific invention from Rory O’Connor.
A seventh Donal Burke score had the Dubs leading 0-13 to 0-9 at the break.
The large crowd savoured the opening stages of the second-half as scores were continually traded, before Dublin threatened to steal clear when Aidan Mellett, Ríain McBride, Conor Burke, Donal Burke and Fergal Whitley developed a 0-20 to 0-14 cushion after 52 minutes.
Wexford refused to buckle as they caused Dublin lots of anxiety, with Rory O’Connor forcing a save and being awarded a penalty having been hauled down en route. ‘Keeper Mark Fanning’s lengthy journey up the field was in vain though as his opposite number, Seán Brennan, dived full length to tip the sliothar away.
A sublime clearance from Damien Reck to Conor McDonald put Rory O’Connor through on goal again only to force a ‘65 which was pointed by sub Lee Chin, Wexford’s saviour against Galway (0-20 to 0-15).
Reck was really catching the eye for Wexford with a couple of top class scores at this stage, and fellow defender Simon Donohoe and Chin (free) had it back to 0-21 to 0-17 before Dublin lost corner-back Cian O’Callaghan to a second yellow-card in the 59th minute.
Dublin reasserted by 0-24 to 0-20 with two minutes of normal-time left courtesy of Chris Crummey, Fergal Whitley and Donal Burke (free).
But Wexford fought to the bitter end, and three Chin frees got them within the minimum only to fall just short of another marvellous comeback.
Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 0-12 (8 frees), Ronan Hayes, Conor Burke, Ríain McBride, Fergal Whitely 0-2 each, Eoghan O’Donnell, Donnacha Ryan, Aidan Mellett, Chris Crummey 0-1 each.
Scorers for Wexford: Lee Chin 0-7 (6 frees, 1 ‘65), Rory O’Connor 0-5 (4 frees), Mark Fanning (frees), Damien Reck 0-3 each, Connal Flood, Liam Óg McGovern, Conor McDonald, Simon Donohoe, Diarmuid O’Keeffe 0-1 each.
Dublin: Seán Brennan; John Bellew, Eoghan O’Donnell, Cian O’Callaghan; James Madden, Paddy Smyth, Donnacha Ryan; Conor Burke, Chris Crummey; Donal Burke, Ríain McBride, Danny Sutcliffe; Aidan Mellett, Ronan Hayes, Fergal Whitely.
Subs: Davy Keogh for C. Burke (60), Paul Crummey for Whitely (69), Eamon Dillon for Hayes (70+2).
Wexford: Mark Fanning; Matthew O’Hanlon, Liam Ryan, Simon Donohoe; Connal Flood, Pádraig Foley, Damien Reck; Liam Óg McGovern, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Mikie Dwyer, Oisín Foley, Charlie McGuckin; Rory O’Connor, Conor McDonald, Kevin Foley.
Subs: Cathal Dunbar for K. Foley (HT), Lee Chin for Dwyer (42), Oisín Pepper for O. Foley (64), Conor Hearne for McGuckin (70+1).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).