Sunday 16 December 2018

Fethard seek junior joy

Mogue's ready for dream Croker clash with Ardmore

Fethard captain Garrett Foley in Croke Park yesterday (Monday) with his Ardmore counterpart, Declan Prendergast
Fethard captain Garrett Foley in Croke Park yesterday (Monday) with his Ardmore counterpart, Declan Prendergast

Brendan Furlong

Fethard won the county Intermediate 'A' hurling title last October, and now they are on the verge of an historic victory when they play the Waterford and Munster champions, Ardmore, in the AIB All-Ireland Club Junior hurling championship final in Croke Park on Sunday (2pm).

They have led the way through some marvellous victories in lifting the provincial title, being the first Wexford club to achieve this.

And they went on to record a hugely impressive 0-18 to 0-9 over Galway side, Sylane, in the All-Ireland semi-final, in the process setting up a clash with their neighbours from across the water.

Ardmore carry some seasoned names in their team, most notably the Prendergast brothers, Declan and Seamus.

Declan is their rock in the centre of defence, playing at full-back, while Seamus carries the threat further down pitch as his side's leading scorer from the full-forward role.

They also carry a number of players with under-age inter-county experience and will present a formidable force come Sunday afternoon.

However, Fethard are not without quality of their own as, having come through a tough Leinster campaign, they went on to show their mettle in the two All-Ireland games thus far.

They have demonstrated they have the required talent and ability to match up with the best in this game, which in itself should make for an intriguing final.

Fethard carry the hopes of the county to headquarters, joining such exalted sides as Rathnure and Buffers Alley who have battled for major honours on the renowned green sward.

They are now just 60 minutes away from becoming only the second Wexford club to bring All-Ireland honours to the county, with Buffers Alley sitting isolated at the moment, having won the All-Ireland Senior hurling title in 1989.

While Fethard have impacted on this championship like no one expected, they clearly realise that further improvement is necessary if they are to lift the trophy.

Still, their journey has brought great excitement not alone to the parish, but also the adjoining parishes in the district.

Team manager, Lorcan Barden, has his player concerns leading up to the game, so much so that they will not settle on their starting 15 until later in the week.

Midfielder John Tubritt, forced to retire in the semi-final with a knee injury, is a huge doubt, while dazzling corner-forward Mikie Dwyer is carrying a neck problem. Also on the doubtful list is the experienced Jesse Foley, who is striving to overcome a hamstring problem.

But Barden will be hoping these key players come through fitness tests late in the week.

'Tubritt is very much tough and go. He was forced to retire in the semi-final with a knee problem which has restricted his training, while Jesse has an ongoing hamstring problem.

'Mikie is another concern with a neck problem, so we will have to wait until later in the week to see if they become available. It's a concern but we are keeping fingers crossed the players will come through fitness tests,' Barden said.

On their opponents from Ardmore, Barden rates them as a very good side with quality hurlers.

'They are a very strong side down the centre and they also have quality players in most key areas.

'They have the experience of the Pendergast brothers to go along with quality in a number of key positions.

'There's no doubt we have a major battle on our hands.

'Ardmore are strong favourites so we will need to step up on our game, but we are confident that we have the players to do that.

'There is a great buzz in the parish over the last number of months,' Barden said.

'It's a huge occasion and one we are looking forward to.

'They are the overwhelming favourites but we are looking forward to the game,' he added.

Enniscorthy Guardian