/ GAA

Wexford 2-13 Dublin 0-19

Updated: Saturday, 14 Jun 2008 19:06

Dublin's John Kelly and Keith Rossiter of Wexford tussle for posession in Kilkenny
Dublin's John Kelly and Keith Rossiter of Wexford tussle for posession in Kilkenny

Dublin missed a golden opportunity to qualify for their first Leinster SHC final since 1991 at Nowlan Park when drawing with Wexford this afternoon.

The two teams shot 33 wides between them - the Dubs led the way with 19 - with many of those off-target shots coming in the closing ten minutes as the game came to a jittery conclusion.

Although both sides showed brief signs of class, this 70-minute effort will do little to quieten those who criticise the current standard of Leinster hurling.

With Kilkenny overwhelming favourites to retain the provincial title, neither Dublin or Wexford currently look capable of living with the Cats for a half, let alone a full match.

That all could change in next week's replay at Croke Park but for now, Tommy Naughton and John Meyler have plenty work on back at their training bases.

Goals from Stephen Banville (7 mins) and Eoin Quigley (9) glossed over a horrible first half for Wexford. They trailed by 0-11 to 2-01 at half-time with their only point coming from an injury-time Diarmuid Lyng free.

David 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan's 0-09 tally helped keep the Dubs ahead but Wexford, who clawed their way back to level-pegging in the 64th-minute, almost won it right at the death.

Lyng, a pivotal player in his side's comeback, got a poor connection on a 72nd-minute free and his effort fell short, allowing referee Seamus Roche call time on an altogether forgettable semi-final.

Wexford, hoping to reach the Leinster final for the eighth year in-a-row, suffered a blow before the throw-in when midfielder MJ Furlong injured himself in the warm-up.

Rathnure clubman Brendan O'Leary stepped up to the plate as his replacement, while Dublin lined out with the team they selected in midweek - Declan O'Dwyer and Ross O'Carroll returned to the starting line-up after being ousted for the win over Westmeath.

O'Callaghan shot Dublin into an early 0-02 to 0-00 lead with a pointed free and a white flag from play but Wexford's goal threat was very obvious.

Centre-forward Quigley worked himself a chance but his rasping effort was saved by Dublin goalkeeper Gary Maguire.

After a wide apiece at both ends, a clever ball in was swooped upon by championship debutant Banville and after a run in towards the square, during which he temporarily lost control of the ball, the big full-forward swept home to the net.

Dublin responded with a John McCaffrey point yet Wexford seemed to have plenty of ammunition as Quigley stormed in from the right wing and batted overhead past Maguire for his side's second goal.

2-00 to 0-03 ahead, Wexford were looking good but for some reason they were unable to tee up Banville and Quigley for the remainder of the first half.

Dublin's backs gradually got to grips with the duo's movements and the supply of ball in towards the Dublin square dried up.

Former footballer O'Callaghan came into his own at the other end of the pitch. The 25-year-old closed the gap to a single point with another quick brace of points.

Ross O'Carroll, given licence to roam out into the half-forwards, increased his influence with some rangy run. He levelled for Dublin with a neat run and point in the 15th minute.

Growing in confidence and helped by a crisp supply of ball from the likes of Ronan Fallon and the hard-working Joey Boland, O'Callaghan and O'Carroll continued to impress as the half wore on.

The pair shared out three more points, sandwiching their scores between Wexford wides from Quigley, Lyng and Colm Farrell.

Kevin Flynn, the elder statesman in the Dublin side at 32, then added his name to the scoresheet and the margin was out to four points (0-10 to 2-00).

In the 27th-minute, the Dubs should really have been celebrating a goal.

Keith Rossiter took his eye off a dropping ball and allowed John Kelly race through on goal but the Dublin number 14 elected to kick his shot and his effort sailed wide of Damien Fitzhenry's goal.

Wexford, although beginning to get more of the ball, took their wides tally to ten with David 'Doc' O'Connor, Rory Jacob and Quigley all hitting wides.

James Burke get away from his marker to slot over Dublin's 11th point, leaving Wexford manager Meyler scratching his head on the sideline.

Burke was centimetres wide when he lashed a shot towards Fitzhenry's goal in injury-time.

Had that gone in, Wexford heads may have dropped but they took some encouragement from Lyng's late pointed free which drew ironic cheers from the crowd. Incredibly, that was Wexford's first score for a full 27 minutes.

Into the second half, a Rory Jacob run in from the right almost produced a Wexford goal but Maguire was equal to the task.

Suitably fired up by Meyler's half-time words, the Model men did up the tempo and Jacob and substitute Stephen Doyle were key to their revival.

Doyle, just seconds on the pitch, moved into space and shot over from the left wing, following up on a Jacob score which was Wexford's first point from play.

O'Callaghan gobbled up a loose ball to pop over Dublin's first point of the half and there was no sign of the Metropolitans flagging as O'Carroll replied to Doyle's second point.

Jacob and O'Dwyer traded points as with 20 minutes remaining, Dublin led by 0-14 to 2-05.

However, Wexford got motoring and closed the gap to a single point by the 54th-minute. Points from Lyng (0-02) and Rory Jacob swamped an impressive score from Dublin midfielder Simon Lambert.

Just moments later, Dublin missed out on another goal-scoring chance. O'Callaghan took his point with aplomb but he failed to spot a player unmarked to his right and Fitzhenry looked badly exposed.

'Dotsy' followed up with another point, after a through ball from Boland, to ease Dublin's nerves and take the score to 0-17 to 2-08.

David Redmond then did the donkey work for a Quigley point and the Wexford corner forward turned scorer just a minute later when he pointed after a scrappy spell of play.

The Dubs stubbornly held onto their lead thanks to a superb sideline cut from the left from McCaffrey.

But Naughton's charges could only score once in the closing stages as their shooting, particularly that of their substitutes, let them down badly.

Boland gave away a needless free which Lyng pointed and the same player was on target, three minutes later, to level the sides for the third time.

Wides began to blight both sides' play as Banville, O'Carroll, Paul Ryan, Lyng and Michael Doyle all fluffed their lines in front of goal.

Yet an O'Callaghan point, after a 68th-minute foul on O'Carroll, gave Dublin the hope that their long wait for a Leinster final appearance could be over.

That strike edged them ahead again at 0-19 to 2-12. Nonetheless, with their greater experience coming through, Wexford managed to level the game for the fourth time with a Quigley point in the first-minute of injury-time.

Seconds later, Wexford won a free in midfield and Lyng stepped up to try and land what would have been the match-winning point.

He failed and, considering their first half performance, it would have been an injustice for the Dubs not to get a second bite of the cherry.

DUBLIN: G Maguire; N Corcoran, S Hiney, T Brady; M Carton (0-01), R Fallon, J Boland; J McCaffrey (0-01, 0-01sl), S Lambert (0-01); J Burke (0-01), D O'Dwyer (0-01), K Flynn (0-01); D O'Callaghan (0-09, 0-03f), J Kelly, R O'Carroll (0-04).

Subs used: P Ryan for Kelly (40 mins), D Curtin for Flynn (55), D Qualter for Lambert (63), P Kelly for Burke (69).

WEXFORD: D Fitzhenry; M Travers, K Rossiter, P Roche; M Jacob, D O'Connor, D Stamp; B O'Leary, C Farrell; PJ Nolan, E Quigley (1-02), D Lyng (0-05, 0-04f); D Redmond (0-01), S Banville (1-00), R Jacob (0-03).

Subs used: S Doyle (0-02) for Farrell (41 mins), M Doyle for O'Leary (49), J Tonks for Roche (57).

Referee: Seamus Roche (Tipperary)

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