Hurlers need to lay down big marker on Sunday
The learning curve is over for Wexford, now the time has arrived to deliver when they take on Laois in the Leinster Senior hurling championship quarter-final at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, on Sunday afternoon next.
For Wexford, while it has been somewhat of a difficult build-up, they received a boost with the news that Shaun Murphy will be fit to take his sweeper role, which will see the side able to stick to the system which stood the test through the national league campaign.
While Wexford sweated on the fitness of Murphy, this became more important, when defenders Damien Reck (ankle ligaments) and Willie Devereux (hamstring) were both ruled out of the game, while there's still a doubt about the availability of corner-back James Breen, who is suffering from recurring headaches.
A decision on his fitness will be made later in the week.
Keeper Mark Fanning, is expected to overcome an hand injury wound, which has become infected.
Long term injured players, Liam Og McGovern, Andrew Shore and Shane Tomkins, will find the game has arrived a little early and are not expected to figure in the managements thinking. Added to the squad are Rory O'Connor, Conor Firman and Naomh Eanna's Padraig Doyle.
When these two sides met in the league Wexford were extended to the end having to rely on a storming finish to hold off the Laois challenge, so they will be expecting no difference that the Laois side will be on home turf in front of their own supporters.
The national league proved a huge learning curve for Wexford, one which they negotiated successfully, winning promotion while also qualifying for the semi-final with a resounding quarter-final victory over arch rivals Kilkenny.
So far so good but now they will be expected to take on a new challenge, different guys, different challenge.
Championship hurling brings its own demands, the hurling will be more physical, and each side will be looking towards leaders on the pitch.
Wexford have built a base but they must now keep [progressing. They will be looking to this game as a hugely difficult one but with Shaun Murphy available, they will be able to stick to their game plan, which is important. The Wexford plan allows them to dictate a game and set the pattern in which they like it played.
Playing against Laois has always proved difficult for Wexford. So much depends on their stand out players.
They will be looking towards Liam Ryan, Matthew O'Hanlon, Diarmuid O'Keeffe, Lee Chin, Conor McDonald and Paul Morris to stand out and lead the championship charge from the opening minutes.
You can sense that Wexford will be somewhat nervous going into this game but one will still be happy they will be well prepared to meet whatever challenge Laois have to offer.
The backroom have prepared the players all they can.
Now it's up to them to go to O'Moore Park and lay down the marker that they will be serious Leinster contenders.
The game has a 2pm start.
Independent.ie Comments Facility
INM has taken the decision to remove the commenting facility on its online platform Independent.ie to minimise the legal risk to our business that arises from Ireland's draconian libel awards system.
We continue to look forward to receiving comments through direct email contact or via social media, some of which may still be featured on the website Independent.ie