Sean Moran celebrates scoring his goal.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Kevin O’Brien reports from Parnell Park

ONLY FOR SEAN Moran’s injury-time equaliser, Dublin were almost certainly out of the race to finish inside the top three in the Leinster hurling pecking order.

After defeat to Kilkenny last weekend, another loss to Wexford yesterday would have significantly reduced their chances of progressing to the All-Ireland series.

But the Cuala defender’s goal five minutes into injury-time – a 21m free that bounced into the net past Wexford goalkeeper Mark Fanning and the seven defenders behind him on the line – kept Dublin’s interests in the championship alive. Just about.

Last puck of the ball for @DubGAAOfficial v @OfficialWexGAA Sean Moran’s free levels it up. What a view and what a finish! @RTEgaa @officialgaa @The42_ie @DubMatchTracker

— Eoghan Smyth (@EoghanSmyth) May 19, 2019

“It hit the ground,” said Davy Fitzgerald. “If you do hit the ground, anything is liable to happen. It’s fair tough from our point of things, it was gone over 40 minutes (in the second-half).

“Mark was out front. Mark was there. He knows himself. He’ll be disappointed. It doesn’t matter who’s behind him, he was at the pitch of it and you want your best shot-stopper and he’s one of the best in the country without a shadow of a doubt.

“He’s actually bulling, he thinks he should have stopped it by a mile. I wouldn’t blame that there was seven in there – it didn’t matter. If it was hit away from Mark and we had someone else, fine. But it wasn’t.

“In fairness, Fergal (Horgan) did a decent enough job on it. I do find it hard to find out what five minutes (stoppage-time) was in the second-half, that’s being totally honest. Maybe three, three and a bit, but that’s the way it goes.”

The sides went in level at 0-11 apiece at the break. Both teams shot eight wides each in the first period, but Wexford were more reliant on Lee Chin’s pinpoint accuracy from frees.

Shaun Murphy had tied down Danny Sutcliffe in midfield, chipping in with three points of his own, while Conor McDonald clipped over two glorious sideline cuts, but their attack hadn’t quite clicked into gear.

Instead, Dublin dominated the 20 minutes after the restart to lead by 0-20 to 0-15 and Mattie Kenny’s men looked primed to power home.

“They were getting the ball easily, I thought we were panicking a small bit,” continued Fitzgerald. “We had said at half-time what we wanted to do but we just weren’t doing it. We weren’t running at them enough and committing to the runs. 

Davy Fitzgerald during Wexford’s warm-up.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“We seemed a small bit flat at times looking at them today. There didn’t seem to be much energy. You’re looking out 12, 13 minutes into the second half and you’re wondering, ‘Jesus, where are we going to get a bolt of energy from?’

“The next thing, we got it and off we went,” he added. “Then when one or two of them came off for us, I thought we did a bit better.”

Wexford forced a way back into the game through old-fashioned hard work. 

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Their forwards turned over a Dublin short-passing move out of defence, with Eoghan O’Donnell’s stick-pass intercepted by Jack O’Connor. He slalomed his way forward and fed Liam Og McGovern for the first goal.

Eight minutes later, another turnover and another goal. This time from the stick of rising star Rory O’Connor, leaving Wexford three in front.

“I’d say Dublin were sitting pretty happy at half-time and they were sitting even happier with 15 minutes gone in the second half.

“I thought we showed tremendous character. The way we played there for 20 minutes, I don’t think any team around would match us if we play at that intensity, move the ball like we did.”

Fitzgerald described Moran’s 75th-minute goal as “an absolute killer” – but stressed that it didn’t change much from their perspective.

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“It’s a killer to get caught in the end . We’d done enough to see that out. I think today will stand to us. We just need to pick them up – they’re actually very down inside there.

Cian Boland is challenged by Lee Chin.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“It could have been two points in the bag heading up there and we’d be nearly qualified. But listen, it is what it is. Isn’t it exciting though? I think even in Leinster, you’ll find there’s very little between the teams. That was a very decent game today. 

“It doesn’t make a difference. We still have to win two of our three games, that’s the bottom line. Even after today, that would have still been our way of thinking that we still had to win two of three games.”

Wexford, who unusually start the round-robin with two away ties, play Galway away next weekend before the bye week. They conclude with home games against Kilkenny and Carlow, while Dublin have Carlow (away) and Galway (home) left on the cards.

“We look at this nearly the same as a victory because we came here and got a result,” added Fitzgerald.

“That’s massive. I think all the bookies had us well outsiders today, we were close to 1.5/1 I think someone said today. 

“I can’t understand why they’d write us off like that or put us as underdogs, I think we’re definitely right up there with any of the best teams in Leinster.”

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