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Sliding Doors: Wexford missing their chance against Dublin 2011

Had Jason Ryan’s Wexford side held on against Dublin, perhaps they could have altered the next decade in the world of Gaelic football.

Wexford might well have changed the course of history if they had beaten Dublin in the 2011 Leinster football final.

The Model County were at their height under Jason Ryan during this era, and found themselves three points ahead of a stuttering Dublin team during the second half of this clash at Croke Park.

A horrible own goal by the Models and a brilliant solo effort from James McCarthy turned the tide for the Dubs, and the turnaround might have been their biggest ever fork in the road.

This was a team that had been battered by Kerry in Pat Gilroy’s first season of 2009, then routed by Meath in the 2010 Leinster season, before collapsing in the dying minutes of the All-Ireland semi-final against Cork.

It was a similar fate in the 2011 league final against the Rebels, and a case can be made that a provincial final loss to Wexford would have altered footballing history entirely.

Would the Dubs have recovered in the back door, would their confidence have been shot, would Gilroy have found the winning formula?

Eoghan O’Gara and Diarmuid Connolly were held scoreless in the game, while reigning footballer of the year Bernard Brogan was also taken off.

As Malachy Clerkin wrote at the time: “Dublin took their 50th Leinster title with a 2-12 to 1-12 victory over Wexford but we left Croke Park feeling we might all have been as well off staying in the scratcher.”

For Wexford, and considering the relentless dominance of the Dubs in Leinster since, it might well have been their last chance to win a provincial crown.

Despite putting up a good showing in 2012, they have quickly dropped down the rankings in the years since and look a world away from contending with the five-in-a-row champions.

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