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Wednesday 16 April 2014

McCarthy hopeful as Codd returns

PAUL CODD has been recalled to the Wexford team to face Cork in Sunday's All-Ireland hurling semi-final. Codd was a substitute during Wexford's successful Leinster championship campaign and came off the bench to score two vital points against Offaly in the final.

PAUL CODD has been recalled to the Wexford team to face Cork in Sunday's All-Ireland hurling semi-final.

Codd was a substitute during Wexford's successful Leinster championship campaign and came off the bench to score two vital points against Offaly in the final.

Last year's captain comes in at the expense of Barry Lambert who has not recovered from an ankle injury. Wexford's other half-forwards, Paul Carley and Eoin Quigley, are both named on the team but doubts still persist over whether or not they will play. Carley and Quigley will both have fitness tests prior to Sunday's throw-in.

Rory McCarthy, meanwhile, often wonders whether his last-gasp goal to earn Wexford a draw in last year's All-Ireland semi-final with Cork was worth it all.

McCarthy's late strike brought one of the great hurling games of modern times to a fair and equitable conclusion and breathed optimism in a county where despair was beginning to take a tight rein.

But a disappointing response from Wexford in the replay left McCarthy questioning the value of arguably his most memorable score in a career spanning 10 seasons.

"The goal is a nice memory to have but the season was ultimately disappointment as we ended up with nothing," he recalled.

"We drew the first game but if there were four points in it when I scored the goal we might have been better off because in the replay we just didn't get going at all. Cork over ran us."

McCarthy also feels "a few funny decisions over the two games" were also costly, perhaps a reference to to the failure of referee Aodhán MacSuibhne not to penalise Niall McCarthy for dropping his hurl as he went on to kick home first crucial goal in the opening half. "There would have been very little in it in the end but for a couple of bad decisions," he reflected. "We played well in the first 15 to 20 minutes but after that it was all downhill and that's something we have to address."

McCarthy is aware of the poor record his county have against Cork but is optimistic that a 47-year barren spell can end on Sunday. "Cork have proved quite a stumbling block to Wexford underage teams over the last five to six years and a lot of the players on Sunday would have met in those grades.

"But on the law of averages Wexford are bound to put one over on them some day soon. We haven't beaten them in 47 years at senior level. If we don't win on Sunday that will extend to 48. But some day it will happen and when it does it won't be a surprise to us."

McCarthy says they have spent a good deal of time examining the way Cork play. "It's a completely different style to Kilkenny. They run with the ball, go short with it and keep moving. I think it's a strong Newtownshandrum influence and it's beginning to shone through. But if we can halt them and stop them from building momentum we'll have a good chance.

"We've always felt, with respect to Antrim, that Cork would be our opponents and we've made plans for that challenge," he warned.

McCarthy admits there is great satisfaction in the way they have managed to turn things around. After a terrible league campaign matters came to a head before their last league game with Dublin and though stories of rifts between the management and players were denied there was still an element of substance to them.

"We all sat down as a unit to work out how we would get out of the hole we found ourselves in. We have our shoulder to the wheel and there's a confidence in the panel that probably wasn't there last year."

WEXFORD (SH v Cork) - D Fitzhenry; M Travers, D Ryan, D O'Connor; R McCarthy, D Ruth, J O'Connor; A Fenlon, T Mahon; P Carley, E Quigley, P Codd; M Jordan, M Jacob, R Jacob.

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