Sunday 20 August 2017

Cats' claws will be out for Wexford after league defeat - Shefflin

Kilkenny legend Henry Shefflin. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile
Kilkenny legend Henry Shefflin. Photo: Ray McManus / Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Kilkenny legend Henry Shefflin believes the Cats will be much better prepared for the challenge of Wexford than they were when the sides met in a league quarter-final earlier this year.

Davy Fitzgerald's Slaneysiders beat Kilkenny in Nowlan Park back in April, the first time Wexford had won there since 1957.

That victory represented just Wexford's third win over the Cats in 21 attempts but Shefflin believes Kilkenny will be primed to strike back when the sides meet on Saturday night.

"(They) would be very motivated, and I think the learnings from that game, like Shaun Murphy was so good the last day, you'd be foolish to go out and make him look very good the next day," said Shefflin. "I think Brian (Cody), and the Kilkenny team, go out to win every game in the league.

"But the level of planning and organisation that goes into that wouldn't be at the level of the championship.

"I'd no doubt Davy Fitz had done that for the league, because you could see the man-marking, on TJ (Reid) and Richie (Hogan). And I don't think Brian had anything like that done. I think Kilkenny will have a lot more homework done.

"Down in Wexford Park is always a difficult place. That's the one thing. If it was Nowlan Park I'd be a lot more confident, but Wexford Park is definitely difficult."

And the Ballyhale man believes that should Kilkenny overcome Wexford, the road ahead could open up for them with the likes of Michael Fennelly and Ger Aylward edging towards fitness after injury lay-offs.

"Kilkenny know they need to get all their top players playing, and not injured, or struggling with injury. And they did have a lot of injuries during the league.

"We are seeing more players coming through, but we also need to see the experienced players beside them, to give them more chance to breathe, to really develop I suppose."

"I know a lot of people will probably fancy Wexford's chances, but I think if they can get over Wexford, which I think they might, after the learning of the league quarter-final.

"Galway always struggle to beat Kilkenny, and next thing, lo and behold, Kilkenny are in an All-Ireland semi-final.

"And that's where they want to be, because Michael, Ger, will hopefully have that time to get the rustiness out of themselves.

"It would be different in the Munster Championship, which can be a minefield, but I think the lessons of the Wexford game (in the league) will have them very much up for it.

"It is a pivotal game for Kilkenny, because lose that, you are in the back door proper... But if you win it, at least you're in the quarter-final."

Irish Independent

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