Rossiter: Model need time to reach heights
WEXFORD were one of the hardest-hit counties when the hurling leagues were restructured over the winter.
The Model men could have been forgiven for feeling aggrieved after they were shifted from Division 1 to Division 1B when the leagues were rejigged, despite having done enough to secure a place in the eight-team top flight under the previous system.
But after a league campaign in which Wexford only retained their new league status by beating Laois, defender Keith Rossiter believes his side need time before they can compete again with hurling's elite.
"You need to be operating at the top level," says the Oulart-The Ballagh clubman. "Honestly, we have shown in the league we are not there yet, but we have a young panel and I'm sure we will get there with a bit of time. Division 1B won't do us any harm next year either.
"Coming into the league, you want to get to a league final and probably lash off one of the 1A teams. It wasn't to be.
"We didn't start great against Antrim and the way the league is, when you get one defeat you are nearly looking at relegation more than promotion.
"We blooded a lot of players: 50pc of our players are new this year. The games are competitive. You'll have Dublin next year and Limerick and Offaly also, so the games are competitive; I won't complain about the league.
"We'll look forward to it next year and hopefully get promotion. Division 1A is a different level. You see what Kilkenny did to Clare in the semi-final, they beat them comprehensively.
"You have to up the ante for the few weeks between league and championship to get to that level.
"On championship day anything can happen. It's 70 minutes, you give 110pc and hopefully the result goes your way and you can put the Division 1B thing to the back of your head and roll on with the big guns."
Wexford start their championship campaign on Saturday with a trip to Tullamore to face Offaly and, while he acknowledges that Wexford under Liam Dunne are a longer-term project, Rossiter has set his sights on a Leinster final appearance.
"Liam is an intelligent guy. He didn't take the job on a whim. He realises that it is going to take time and hard work, and hopefully in time we'll be back with the big guns," he says.
"It'll be interesting to see how the championship runs for us. If we get over Offaly, you have Galway, Westmeath or Antrim in a semi-final and if you get over that, that's two big matches.
"You'd have Kilkenny or Dublin in a Leinster final and the bar is high there, but it'd be progress to get back to Leinster final day."