Sunday 4 December 2016

Wexford U-21 ace McDonald well aware of Saffron threat

Published 20/08/2015 | 02:30

Antrim’s Ryan McCambridge and Wexford’s Conor McDonald pictured in Dublin ahead of Saturday’s Bord Gais U21 hurling semi-final
Antrim’s Ryan McCambridge and Wexford’s Conor McDonald pictured in Dublin ahead of Saturday’s Bord Gais U21 hurling semi-final

Looking back now, Wexford's Conor McDonald thinks he has it figured out.

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Complacency had set in when they last played Antrim in an All-Ireland U-21 hurling semi-final.

McDonald was part of the panel that expected to make the All-Ireland final when the sides met two years ago. Antrim stunned everyone, and maybe even themselves, by turning Wexford over.

"When it's drilled in from the public... you think, 'Nah, I'm not thinking that way' or 'I'm not going to be complacent' but there's so much pressure with people saying we were going to get to an All-Ireland final and this was an easy game," McDonald recalled.

"Over the past five or six years at U-21 level, anybody can beat anybody. I think that was a good example of it."

The sides meet again on Saturday and there's still a handful of that Wexford team eligible. Once again, the Slaneysiders are favourites to reach a second successive All-Ireland final having strung three Leinster titles together.

Aftermath

But everyone's a bit wary. In the aftermath of that win, stories emerged about an Antrim player eating a bag of pick and mix sweets on his way to the game and that stung even more.

McDonald reckons there will only be silent promises to avenge that result this weekend.

"Two years on, you're probably not going to bring up stuff from the past. It will be in everyone's head that we do have a point to prove - to right what happened two years ago.

"It's a different Wexford side, it's a different Antrim side, it's another game. I suppose, from the personal side of things, you think, 'We have to put it right'."

Their form suggests they will avenge that result. And after falling at the final hurdle to a celebrated Clare team 12 months ago, Wexford want more.

"It was our aim to be here at the start of the year," McDonald said. "We were hoping to win the three-in-a-row in Leinster, that was a big thing with us. To go one step further than last year was also our big aim."

Irish Independent

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