By Daragh Ó Conchúir
DAVID HERITY was basking in the glow of a job very well done as his Dublin side beat Wexford in Semple Stadium to reach the Semi-Finals of the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship for the first time since 1990.
Herity has known plenty of glory as a five-time All-Ireland winner with hurling powerhouse Kilkenny but it was evident as he spoke after a thoroughly deserved seven-point win that this ranked highly in his career achievements.
Dublin will be even bigger underdogs than they were for this quarter-final when taking on their manager’s native county, who are champions and have won the last two Leagues as well.
“We’ve been hitting 30-minute and 40-minute games but we hadn’t produced the 60 minutes” said Herity on RTÉ2. “We knew it was in them and they showed it there. It was an incredible performance.
“We knew how good Wexford are. They’re in the semi-finals every single year. It’s 1990 since Dublin were in a semi-final. We knew we were up against it.
“We were feeling very confident going in. I know people had us as 6/1 outsiders but we knew deep down ourselves what we could do when we put our minds to it. The workrate, the skill that’s in the team, we’ve been saying it all year.
“There’s a revolution happening in Dublin. The U16s, the minors, the premier juniors were all in All-Ireland semi-finals. It was up to us to stand up to the plate and get the seniors into it and we’ve done our job. I’m delighted.
“We know we’re going to have to up it again but it’s great to be there.”
Wexford stormed into an early three-point lead into the wind but Dublin were dominant for the rest of the game except for a brief period in the second half, when the gutsy Yellowbellies threatened a comeback.
Dublin recovered to lead by 0-9 to 0-4 at half time, thanks to some excellent play by Aisling Maher, Hannah Hegarty, Eimear McCarthy, Eva Marie Elliott and Gráinne Quinn, as well as a vital penalty save by goalkeeper and player of the match Faye McCarthy in the fifth minute of injury time from Sarah O’Connor.
McCarthy, who was joint leading scorer for her side coming into the game, made two more excellent saves in the second half including one spectacular stop soon after the restart from Joanne Dillon and added two points from placed balls into the wind.
The Metropolitans were looking comfortable, leading by 0-14 to 0-7 but substitute Linda Bolger pointed from wide on the left to spark a Wexford revival. Shelly Kehoe was among her side’s best players, along with sister Stacy, and she shot a brace inside a minute.
When O’Connor landed a long-range free it was a three-point game with 12 minutes remaining.
The next score would be crucial and it came to Dublin, Ali Twomey pouncing to flick one-handed to the net after Wexford goalkeeper Nicole Fortune dropped Siobhán Kehoe’s delivery.
That knocked the stuffing out of Wexford as Twomey followed up immediately with a point and McCarthy also found the target before making another impressive stop from Stacy Kehoe.
SCORERS FOR DUBLIN: A Maher 0-7 (5fs); A Twomey 1-2; E McCarthy, F McCarthy (fs) 0-2 each; Siobhán Kehoe, E McGovern, H Hegarty 0-1 each,
SCORERS FOR WEXFORD: C Foxe 0-4(2fs, 1 45); Shelly Kehoe 0-3; Stacey Kehoe 0-2; L Bolger, S O’Connor (f), Ú Leacy (f) 0-1 each
WEXFORD: N Fortune, S O’Connor, C Storey, K Atkinson, S Nolan, M Leacy, A Lacey, B Gordon, A Cardiff, Stacey Kehoe, Shelly Kehoe, C Foxe, Ú Leacy, J Dillon, E Walsh. Subs: S Sinnott for Atkinson inj (23); L Bolger for Foxe (40), Ú Sinnott for Cardiff (45)
DUBLIN: F McCarthy, E M Elliott, E O’Brien, G Quinn, H Hegarty, A Carolan, A Woods, M Twomey, E McCarthy, A Twomey, A Maguire, E McGovern, E Flanagan, A Maher, S Kehoe. Subs: C Donnelly for Maguire (ht), M Moynihan for McGovern (50)
REFEREE: C Egan (Cork)