TWO second-half goals helped Dublin claim their fourth provincial U21 hurling title after a six-point victory over Wexford in the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster final at Parnell Park yesterday evening.
With Dublin making a nervous opening, Wexford seized the initiative, with Emmet Kent pointing inside 40 seconds and it took a long-distance free from Peter Kelly to restore parity on four minutes.
The visitors continued to play the better hurling and Liam Óg McGovern quickly restored their lead. But the ebb and flow continued with David Treacy, back from his recent hamstring injury, levelling matters after a fine solo run from Dáire Plunkett.
Wexford were enjoying supremacy in midfield and in particular through their half-forward line and they earned reward for their dominance through two points apiece from Shane Tomkins and McGovern as they opened up a four-point lead by the end of the first quarter.
A brace of Shane Stapleton frees brought Dublin back to just two points but McGovern was soon on hand to pop over his fourth point from play on 20 minutes as Dublin struggled to match the intensity of their opponents.
Dublin’s struggling midfield was augmented by corner-forward Barry O’Rorke and his ability to pick out his forwards helped Dublin close the gap through points from Niall McMorrow and Plunkett as the half progressed.
An Eoin Moore free was followed immediately by another placed ball from Stapleton and Wexford entered the break 0-8 to 0-7 ahead.
The second half resumed in similar fashion with Dublin enjoying more possession and although Plunkett and McMorrow pointed early on, four early wides undermined their challenge.
With Tomkins availing of every opportunity afforded by ill-disciplined Dublin defending, it looked like Wexford would have enough to hold on for victory. However, with 10 minutes remaining, they received a serious body blow in the form of a Plunkett goal, who took Treacy’s clever pass before embarking on a solo run which culminated in a kicked finish to the back of Fanning’s net.
Dublin’s second goal effectively sealed the contest as Ciaran Brennan and Aodhán McEnerney combined for another substitute, David Quinn, to seal victory on 59 minutes.
Scorers: Dublin: D Plunkett 1-3, S Stapleton (3f), D Treacy (2f), N McMorrow 0-3, D Quinn 1-0, P Kelly (f), L Rushe, D Whelan 0-1 each.
Wexford: S Tomkins 0-6 (4f), L Óg McGovern 0-4, E Kent 0-2, E Moore (f), H Kehoe, J Leacy 0-1.
DUBLIN: F McGarry; R Walsh, D Kelly, O Gough; R O’Loughlin, M Quilty, P Kelly; C Clinton, P Buckeridge; S Stapleton, L Rushe, D Plunkett; B O’Rorke, D Treacy, N McMorrow.
Subs: D Quinn for Stapleton (39), A McEnerney for Clinton (46), D Whelan for O’Loughlin (49), C Brennan for McMorrow (57).
WEXFORD: M Fanning; B McCormack, M O’Hanlon, E Doyle; S Murphy, A Shore, M O’Hanlon; E Moore, M O’Regan; L Óg McGovern, S Tomkins, H Kehoe; E Kent, J Gahan, J Reck.
Subs: P Morris for Murphy (16), J Leacy for Reck (33), P Donnelly for O’Hanlon (53), T O’Leary for Kent (60).
Referee: Dominic Connolly (Kilkenny)
By Ronán MacLochlainn