The Dublin hurlers’ first competitive game in eleven weeks takes place against Wexford on Saturday evening in Wexford Park. Amy Forde is here to preview the Leinster Hurling Championship clash.
Dublin had a mixed league campaign in Division 1A; while they saw off Kilkenny and Clare, they suffered defeats by Galway, Tipperary and Waterford. This put them in a relegation play-off with Waterford, in which they triumphed by five points on a scoreline of 1-17 to 4-13.
Wexford’s league campaign in Division 1B saw them defeat Antrim, Offaly and Laois. They lost to Cork and Limerick, but still qualified for the quarter final stages. It was here that they met Kilkenny and suffered a ten-point defeat.
Dublin, last year’s Leinster SHC winners, went straight through to the semi-final stage so this will be their first test in the championship. Wexford meanwhile saw off Antrim in O’Moore Park two weeks ago in the provincial quarter final. They registered a thirteen-point win over the Saffron side in which Rory Jacob scored two goals within the first four minutes and Conor McDonald added a third on the twelfth for the Slaneysiders.
It was Antrim’s fifth competitive game in six weeks and their tiredness showed in the last ten minutes. Wexford finished the game with a scoreline of 5-19 to 0-21.
Many will favour the Dubs to come out of Saturday’s game with a place secured in the Leinster final. Preparations have been hindered as they have been hit with a number or high-profile injuries.
Danny Sutcliffe is out with a hand injury and goalkeeper Gary Maguire is out with a broken thumb. The injuries do not stop there; there are also doubts over Liam Rushe (hamstring) and David Treacy (quad muscle).
Last year the two sides met in the Leinster quarter final. Dublin eventually came out as winners after a replay. It has been ten years since Wexford won the coveted Leinster hurling title and they could potentially be dangerous outsiders ahead of the Dublin game. They defeated Kilkenny in the Leinster under-21 championship last week and will be looking to bring this success into the senior team. Jack Guiney, Conor McDonald, Paul Morris and Rory Jacob are their potential match winners.
Dublin are not without talent; Colm Cronin and Cian O’ Callaghan (the Dublin u-21 captain) could be handed championship debuts while goalkeeper Alan Nolan has proven that he is well up to defending the goal in place of Maguire. Conal Keaney, Alan McCrabbe and Ryan O’Dwyer will have a big say in the outcome of the game.
Wexford are not to be written off and an upset could be on the cards with Dublin not having played a competitive game in eleven weeks . Wexford are also playing on their home ground and that has its own advantages. We only need to look at the Laois performance against Galway two weeks ago, when Laois nearly caused one of the biggest upsets for over a decade.
The winner advances to a Leinster final meeting along with the winners of Kilkenny and Galway. Throw in is at 7.00pm at Wexford Park on Saturday.
Amy Forde, Pundit Arena.