DUBLIN 1-16 WEXFORD 1-15
The age old adage that it’s never over ‘til it’s over got another airing at Parnell Park on Saturday afternoon when the Dubs struck in injury time to snatch a dramatic victory from the jaws of defeat in this Leinster MHC semi-final.
Dublin trailed for most of the game but a goal and a point in the second and third minute of added time left the Slaneysiders shell-shocked and saw John Murphy’s side progress to the provincial final.
Two minutes into injury-time Ciarán Kilkenny was fouled after winning a fine ball in the air – to the annoyance of some Dublin supporters ref Seán Cleere awarded a free to the Dubs – but John Hetherton showed great mettle to drive a bullet-like shot to the roof of the net to bring the sides level, 1-15 each.
With extra-time beckoning Dublin drove forward from the next puck out and a delivery into the danger area was won by Dean Flood who wriggled free of his marker before placing wing-forward Glen Whelan who fired over the winning score.
For long periods it looked as if Martin Storey’s Wexford side were destined to claim the prize of a ticket to the Leinster final as any time Dublin rallied his side responded to keep their opponents at bay.
The Dubs also shot six wides, some from very advantageous positions, in the second half while Wexford shot only one – when ace freetaker Ian Byrne shot wide in the 55th minute.
In the opening half Dublin settled well with a long range free from Hetherton and by the eight minute the sides were level. However, Wexford hit 1-2 without reply in the subsequent four minutes to open up a 1-5 to 0-3 advantage.
Full-forward Gary Moore grabbed the goal when angling a well-struck drive to the net in the tenth minute after good interplay by Aaron Kenny and Conor Hughes.
Wexford kept that buffer between the sides, with Danny Sutcliffe and Ben Quinn provided robust Dublin defence, until close to the conclusion of the first half before Kilkenny and Flood (free, after a foul on Hetherton) tagged on important points to close the gap to four points, 1-8 to 0-7.
Dublin upped their game in the second period and had the help of wind advantage but the early omens did not augur well when Kilkenny elected to double on the sliotar from a Aodhán Clabby pass but did not make a sweet connection with the goal at his mercy and his effort was easily saved by Conor O’Leary.
But points from Fergal Heavey and Denis Forde cut into the Wexford lead but in typical fashion Wexford rallied with two points of their own through Syl Barron and Moore (free).
Into the last minute of normal time Wexford led 1-15 to 0-14 but a Flood free in the 59th minute set up the grandstand finish with Hetherton’s blistering 20-metre free and Whelan’s point from play booking a Leinster final berth.
SCORERS – Dublin: J Heterthon 1-4 (1-4f), D Flood 0-6 (0-5f), G Whelan, C Kilkenny 0-2 each, F Heavey, D Forde 0-1 each. Wexford: G Moore 1-5 (0-4f), I Byrne 0-6 (0-3f, 0-1 ‘65’), D O’Keeffe 0-2, C Hughes, S Barron 0-1.
DUBLIN – E Dillon; C Murphy, E McKenna, S McClelland; C Crummy, D Sutcliffe, B Quinn; N Maguire, F Heavey; G Whelan, A Clabby, D Forde; D Flood, C Kilkenny, J Hetherton. Subs: D Kelly for Maguire (45), C Costello for Clabby (59).
WEXFORD – C O’Leary; G Foley, C Goff, J Kelly; D Jones, L Chin, J Gordon; I Byrne, A Kenny; D O’Keeffe, C Hughes, S O’Gorman; S Barron, G Moore, B Carton. Subs: J Guiney (ht), C Clince (ht), N Murphy (49).
REF – S Cleere (Kilkenny).