Dublin 3-23 Wexford 0-09

Updated: Wednesday, 06 Aug 2008 02:43

Wexford's Paddy Colfer wins this battle against Dublin's Bryan Cullen Dublin's starting XV Wexford's starting XV
Wexford's Paddy Colfer wins this battle against Dublin's Bryan Cullen Dublin's starting XV Wexford's starting XV


A hat-trick of second half goals from Diarmuid Connolly, Alan Brogan and substitute Mark Vaughan catapulted Dublin to their fourth Leinster SFC title in a row at Croke Park this afternoon.

Wexford, lining out in their first Leinster final since 1956, matched Dublin well in the opening half.

The sides were level on two occasions inside the opening quarter, with Ciaran Lyng and Matty Forde taking good scores.

Dublin established a 0-10 to 0-07 half-time lead, but the competitiveness went out of the game in the second half with Wexford's challenge waning.

A 61st-minute Redmond Barry point was their first second half score as the Dubs ruthlessly turned on the style to retain the Delaney Cup.

Dublin's second half display was simply flawless and Wexford could not cope with a Blues attack that was firing on all cylinders.

Goals from Connolly, team captain Brogan and Vaughan saw Paul Caffrey's side race to an emphatic 23-point victory.

Vaughan completed the Dublin hat-trick less than two minutes after his introduction, sending Hill 16 into raptures on a day when there was plenty of blue-shirted heroes - top of the list being midfield dynamo Shane Ryan.

A crowd of 80,112 crammed into Croke Park to watch the first Dublin-Wexford Leinster final since 1933.

As anticipated, Colin Moran, who successfully overturned his four-week suspension at a DRA hearing during the week, was brought into the Dublin team as a late replacement for injured corner-back Stephen O'Shaughnessy.

The defending champions made a shaky start to the game with three shots inside the opening five minutes ending up in the safe grasp of Wexford goalkeeper Anthony Masterson.

At the other end, Wexford were making some in-roads and their talisman Forde slotted over the first score of the contest after three minutes.

However, Alan Brogan equalised three minutes later with the first of his two first half points.

And although Wexford levelled once more, Dublin scored six of the next seven points to hold a 0-07 to 0-03 advantage by the 24th minute.

Kevin Bonner was the only player in the Dublin attack not to register a white flag by this stage.

Wexford, with their young manager Jason Ryan roaring them on from the sideline, finished the half strongly with Forde, Eric Bradley and Lyng all on target to go in 0-10 to 0-07 behind at the break.

But with Shane Ryan operating in a roving roll and helping out both defence and attack when necessary, it was becoming harder and harder for the Model men to cope with the marauding midfielder.

There were ominous signs at the start of the second period as the Dubs injected some more pace into their game.

Although the eventual winners kicked five second half wides, a flurry of well-taken scores from all angles more than made up for these misses.

It all started with Tomás Quinn slotting over Dublin's first score of the half within 50 seconds of the restart.

Lyng and Forde carved out chances for Wexford in the opening minutes, yet their opportunities were limited and became scarcer with every passing minute.

A second point of the half from Connolly gave Dublin a 0-16 to 0-07 lead in the 50th minute, but Caffrey's charges really got motoring when the goals arrived.

From a neutral's point of view, goals from Connolly and Brogan in a three-minute spell sent this game well beyond Wexford's reach.

Play-maker Jason Sherlock, who put in another stellar performance, also helped Dublin tighten their grip on the game.

Connolly's 52nd-minute goal came following a mistake in the heart of the Wexford attack by substitute Rory Stafford.

The Dubs worked the ball up-field with Brogan finding Connolly who slotted a rocket to the net.

Brogan turned scorer just minutes later and when Vaughan completed the hat-trick in the 60th minute, it ensured a 19-point lead.

Wexford gained some consolation with late points from Barry and Bradley but it was very much a case of too little, too late.

The game ended slightly prematurely as referee Gerry Kinneavy called a halt to proceedings two minutes into injury-time, as an influx of Dublin supporters burst from the Hill 16 terrace through the security cordon.

But it mattered little as Dublin's players, management and fans were soon in full celebration of their 48th Leinster title success.

So what odds now on a repeat of 1995 for the Metropolitans? Thirteen years ago, the Dubs famously went from winning their fourth successive Leinster title to lifting the Sam Maguire Cup. An interesting two months lies ahead.

Dublin: S Cluxton; D Henry, P Griffin, C Moran (0-01); K Nolan, B Cullen, B Cahill (0-01); C Whelan, S Ryan (0-01); D Connolly (1-03), J Sherlock (0-03), K Bonner; A Brogan (capt) (1-04, 1 '45'), C Keaney (0-06, 4f), T Quinn (0-04, 4f).
Subs: P Casey for Nolan (24 mins), P Flynn for Bonner (56), M Vaughan (1-00) for Connolly (58), R McConnell for Griffin (62), D Murray for Sherlock (65).

Wexford: A Masterson; N Murphy, P Wallace, B Malone; A Morrissey, D Murphy, C Morris (capt); T Howlin, B Doyle; R Barry (0-01), E Bradley (0-02), A Flynn; C Lyng (0-04, 4f), PJ Banville, M Forde (0-02).
Subs: P Colfer for Doyle (27 mins), D Walsh for N Murphy (31), R Stafford for Howlin (39), S Roche for Flynn (60), C Byrne for Banville (60).

Referee: Gerry Kinneavy (Galway).