Dublin produced a power-packed second half performance to retain their Bord Gais Energy Leinster U21HC title at the expense of a fancied Wexford side in Wexford Park last night.
Leading by 0-9 to 0-8 at the break, the Metropolitans took complete control after substitute Eamonn Dillon scored the only goal seven minutes into the second half. It was a highly impressive victory by the Dubs, who also landed the Leinster minor crown last Sunday week.
Played before a bumper 8,000 attendance, the final was evenly contested in the opening half with Emmet Kent and Kevin O’Loughlin exchanging early points. Wexford, who had knocked Kilkenny out of the championship last month, then enjoyed their best spell when points from Paul Morris, Kent and Padraig Doran saw them open up a 0-5 to 0-2 lead by the eighth minute.
But Dublin had restored parity by the end of the first quarter thanks to points from O’Loughlin and Niall McMorrow. Further scores from Conor McGough, Dean Curran and O’Loughlin (free) gave them the slenderest of advantages at the break.
Efforts from Paul Morris and Harry Kehoe had Wexford level six minutes into the second half, but the game turned when Dillon rattled the net a minute later. Wexford failed to score after that as the Dubs, with senior star Liam Rushe driving them on centre back, ran out surprisingly comfortable winners.
Scorers – Dublin: K O’Loughlin 0-8 (6f), E Dillon 1-2, N McMorrow 0-3, S McGrath 0-2, C Gough, D Curran (sideline) D Sutcliffe 0-1 each. Wexford: E Kent (2f , 1’65’), P Morris (2f) 0-4 each, L Og McGovern, P Doran, H Kehoe 0-1 each.
Dublin – G McManus; B O’Carroll, D Kelly, J Doughan; D Curran, L Rushe, M Quilty; C Gough, D Sutcliffe; M Schutte, D Plunkett, R Mahon; K O’Loughlin, T Connolly, N McMorrow. Subs: E Dillon for Quilty (28), S McGrath for Mahon (ht), C Brennan for Schutte (50), F Clabby for Connolly (59), O O Maoileidigh for O’Loughlin (61).
Wexford – M Fanning; W Devereux, P Donnelly, E Moore; M O’Regan, M O’Hanlon, S Murphy; H Kehoe, E Kent; S Tomkins, J Leacy, L Og McGovern; P Morris, J Breen, P Doran. Subs: D O’Keeffe for Kent (22), J Gahan for Leacy (43), I Byrne for Tomkins (46), J Reck for O’Keeffe (56).
Ref – S Cleere (Kilkenny)