Guiney refusing to believe the hype as Limerick tie looms
Published 24/07/2014 | 02:30
Jack Guiney attended the 1996 All-Ireland hurling final, the last great glory day in Wexford hurling's history.
The problem is, he can't remember much, if anything about the occasion on which his dad Dave and uncle Rod were members of Liam Griffin's winning squad at Croke Park.
"I was there alright, but my mother told me I was asleep through the whole thing," said Guiney.
Guiney junior was just three years of age back in '96, too young for any lasting impressions of an historically rare Wexford v Limerick clash in the Liam MacCarthy Cup decider.
The Slaneysiders and the Treaty men have met only twice in All-Ireland finals: the first in the Rackard family era of 1955 and the second in 1996 when present manager Liam Dunne was a player, and forwards' coach Griffin the manager.
On both occasions, Wexford got the better of Limerick. Since '96, the counties have played each other only three times in championship.
Wexford won the 2001 All-Ireland quarter-final, and Limerick got the verdict in qualifiers in 2009 and 2011.
Jack Guiney isn't worried about history as Wexford seek to continue their great form for a fourth successive week – a run that included extra-time in both matches against Clare.
"This group of players haven't played Limerick in the championship yet at any level. It's going to be a new one for us, but we have played them a few times in the league and we know what they're capable of doing.
"They're very impressive and are probably a step or two ahead of us, of where we are in terms of our development. It's going to be a massive challenge for us," said Guiney.
So far, the challenges have come thick and fast for a young Wexford team which features a number of the county's U-21 Leinster-winning side, including Guiney. He has coped admirably, and part of that is undoubtedly hurling DNA in the Guiney clan.
Dave and Rod soldiered alongside stalwarts such as Martin Storey and Dunne and endured many disappointments before the Holy Grail was finally achieved in 1996.
Dave was in the subs, while Rod played in the half-back line that epic day when Wexford, reduced to 14 men shortly before half-time when Eamonn Scallan was sent off, managed to pull through and win the All-Ireland.
If Jack can take anything from his family's experience with Wexford, it is that persistence and refusal to quit can eventually win out.
Dunne and his back-room team have been preaching the message that no silverware has been won, that this game represents another big hurdle, and even last weekend's performance won't be good enough to beat Limerick.
He won't get any arguments from Guiney. The UCD student has no intention of getting carried away by the excitement surrounding Sunday's big clash at Thurles.
"The whole thing is in a bubble, but bubbles are very easily burst. If we go out next weekend and don't show up, and fail to perform, there's going to be very few people talking about us.
"You have to keep your head fairly level, and remember that a pat on the back is only a couple of inches away from a kick in the bottom, so that's the way we look at it. It's the perspective we have coming from the back-room team – the likes of Gerry Fitzpatrick and Liam.
"The manager's been there, he's seen it all before. He has a great perspective and that helps us a lot," said Guiney.
Part of that perspective is a belief in the group ethic, as the Wexford U-21 members in the panel have discovered.
"It raises the standard, but I don't think any of the U-21s are going to get in on this team easy. There's some stalwarts there – the likes of Keith Rossiter. I know he had to come off injured against Waterford, but there's no one going to take his place in a hurry.
"The likes of Rory Jacob there – these are top-class players.
"The U-21s are really, really going to have to earn their spot on the team and there's a big challenge for panel spots as well as team spots. It's a really collective effort and the lads that are there, they are very proud to be in the panel, and so am I. It's obviously a help," he said.
The 6ft 3ins forward was sprung from the bench against Clare last Saturday week after 27 minutes, and ended up man of the match, scoring 0-10 and setting up Harry Kehoe's second goal.
Against Waterford, Guiney was restricted to a point and yet his perceptive long through-ball gave David Redmond the opportunity to nail Wexford's third goal of the match.
Guiney is not the finished article and has plenty of time to reach his peak.
"It's a building process for the panel and I'm sure Liam has touched on that enough times, but we are building the whole time and lads are improving," said Guiney.
"The mistakes we are making, we are improving on them. We made a lot of mistakes out there against Waterford, and we have a lot of things to improve on for the Limerick game, so hopefully we can work on the whole lot."
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