Monday 22 July 2019

Momentum with hurlers

Park will be buzzing for visit of Cats for crunch game

Liam Og McGovern gets the better of Carlow corner-back Kevin McDonald in the comprehensive 2-28 to 0-19 victory in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday
Liam Og McGovern gets the better of Carlow corner-back Kevin McDonald in the comprehensive 2-28 to 0-19 victory in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday

Brendan Furlong, Sports reporter

The momentum is now with Wexford as they head in to next Saturday evening's showdown with arch-rivals Kilkenny in the final round robin game of the Leinster Senior hurling championship in Innovate Wexford Park (7 p.m.).

The weekend results have left four teams still in contention for the top three spots, as Galway face Dublin in Parnell Park at the same time in yet another huge game.

And despite all the permutations and combinations, the respective counties will need to take responsibility into their own hands and not be reliant on a favourable result in the other game to get them through to the provincial final, or at worst claim third spot and a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

Wexford gave their scoring aggregate a real boost through their handsome 15-point victory over Carlow, and this could yet be vital come Saturday evening.

Cool heads will be called for in what is expected to be a real cauldron, with a huge attendance set to pack into the county grounds.

Wexford are undefeated going into this Kilkenny clash, having drawn their opening two games away to both Dublin and Galway.

Now on four points following their victory over Carlow, another two points from the Kilkenny game would see them clinch a provincial final date.

That is what a victory will bring, but if they lose or draw they will sink or fall on the outcome in Parnell Park.

'Any time you play Kilkenny, you know what you get,' manager Davy Fitzgerald said.

'We've beaten them twice this year and they are going to come absolutely flat out to beat us. I know that.

'Following Kilkenny's defeat to Galway, the Leinster championship is going to go right down to the wire. You could be out of it if results don't go your way.

'And we haven't lost a game yet but you just don't know what is going to happen.

'We are going to have to improve a bit on the Carlow game but we'll get ready and see what will happen. Effectively, it's a Leinster semi-final for us.

'We have to win to have any ambitions of playing in the final, even though we haven't lost any games yet. Let's bring it on. It's going to be very, very entertaining next Saturday evening.'

Looking back on the Carlow game, Fitzgerald was happy overall with the display and result.

'Some of our play was lovely, some of our scores were great. Sometimes people go on about us being negative.

'There was times we had too many bodies forward, too many up front. That's a fact.

'There's a transition we have to be careful of.

'Any time we've played we have got a lot of shots off, but our conversion rate needs to be higher, although 2-28 is not a bad score. It could have been even greater.'

Fitzgerald also lauded the workrate of his side.

'We cannot afford to not work, but if we work extremely hard, we'll give anyone a fair go of it.'

That Wexford are unbeaten going into the final round robin game is huge, and it perhaps looked unlikely beforehand given the two away games they had on successive weekends.

Now they have followed that up with a home victory over Carlow, with the acid test this Saturday evening against a wounded Kilkenny side after their one-point home loss to a rejuvenated Galway.

Wexford's only injury concern is St. Martin's clubman Jack O'Connor who was forced to sit out the Carlow victory with a knee ligament problem, but he is expected to come through training this week.

Leinster SHC round robin table

Galway 321072655

Kilkenny 320188704

Wexford 312075604

Dublin 311177703

Carlow 4004731200

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