The Crokes contingent including another returnee Paul Mannion remain on club duty. None of the players who saw action in last year’s epic All-Ireland semi-final featured. In fact, ‘Dessie Farrell’s men’ weren’t even Dessie Farrell’s men as the match program listed former minor boss and U20 selector Ger Lyons as manager for the night though Farrell himself could be seen on the sideline. Colm Basquel was probably the most recognisable name on the team sheet along with Brian O’Leary, who saw championship action last year and CJ Smith played in the league. Otherwise, Dublin carried the look and feel of a development squad.
This was also Oisin McConville’s bow as an intercounty manager. The tentacles of his Armagh 2002 team have long spread over the football landscape but the Crossmaglen man became the latest of that Orchard yield to take charge of a team. And like Dublin, their season will be defined far from this assignment.
Still the crowds turned out in their droves, with Dublin and McConville’s pulling power enough to have a traffic management plan in place from well before throw in. The game itself was as might have been expected. With nine minutes on the clock, we’d seen four wides and just one point, from Dublin’s Killian O’Gara.
The half settled into a rhythm. O’Gara was causing problems and finished the half with three points. Not for the first time Mark Kenny and Kevin Quinn carried Wicklow’s main threat. That pair set up Cathal Barker for the point of the first half before Adam Widdick clipped over a nice point to move Dublin two clear. Quinn responded with a pointed free on the stroke of half time to send the Dubs in leading by a point (0-6 to 0-5) at the break.
But if this was an unfamiliar looking Dublin side they still carried some of the hallmarks that have made them great in recent years. Wicklow generated a pair of decent goal chances early in the second half but had just a point to show for their efforts. Dublin were much more efficient and quickly turne d a two point lead into an 11 point advantage in just over ten minutes. O’Gara capped his performance with a goal after good work from Mark Lavin in the build-up. Not long after Basquel hammered home, leaving no doubt as to the result. Both sides ran their benches but it was D ublin grew in confidence and ran out handsome winners .
SCORERS – Dublin: K O‘Gara 1-4 (2f), C Basquel 1-0, M Lavin, R McGarry, L Breathnach 0-2 each, S Kinsella, M Lynch Bissett, A Waddick, B O’Leary, K McGinnis 0-2 each.
Wicklow: K Quinn 0-4 (3f), M Jackson 0-2 (2f), J Kirwan, M Kenny, C Baker 0-1 each.
Dublin: H O’Sullivan; D Conl on , D Newcombe, B Millist; A F ear o n , G M cEneaney, CJ Smith; A Wright, A Waddic k; K McGinnis, C Basquel, R McGarry; M Lavin, K O’Gara, B O’Leary SUBS: L Breathnach for McGarry (43), L Smith for CJ Smith (54), C Tyrrell for Fearon (56), P Duffy for O’Leary (56), K Lahiff for O’Gara (60), D Robertson for Wright (62), J Bannon for Waddick, K Lynch Bissett for McGinniss, R Shaw for Basquel, S Kinsella for Conlon (all 68)
Wicklow: M Jackson; T Moran, M Stone, K Furlong; T Maher, Z Cullen, J McCall; JP Hurley, P O’Toole; J Kirwan, M Kenny, C Baker; K Quinn, E Murtagh, E Darcy SUBS: C McDonald for McCall (39), F O’Shea for Maher (39), C Maguire for Hurley (45), J Prendergast for Baker (45), T Kelly for Darcy (51), A McHugh for Kenny (56), S Bouchier for Moran (63), P Whelan for Kirwan (66).
Referee: K Harris (Kildare)