Saturday 24 March 2018

Hurlers to use fringe players

Davy in experimental mood

Brendan Furlong

The good thing about having a catalogue of games in quick succession is that it can help a team gain momentum, but for Davy Fitzgerald he must be worried with the growing injury list.

He may have qualified for the Allianz Hurling League quarter-final, but it has come at a cost, since he will field a considerably weakened side for next Sunday's final Division 1A group game with Kilkenny in Nowlan Park.

While injury will deprive him of a number of players, he is also taking the opportunity to rest some who have been part of every game since early January, in the hope that it will freshen the side up for the quarter-finals on the following weekend.

'We will still be fielding quite a strong side,' Fitzgerald said, as he went through the mounting list of players who will be unavailable.

A number of players have already missed out on league games thus far, most notably, Shane Tomkins (ankle surgery), Eoin Moore (ankle), Simon Donohoe (broken bone in hand) and Jack Guiney (knee).

And they will be joined on the bench in Kilkenny by Lee Chin (hamstring), Aidan Nolan (back) and Damien Reck (leg), while both Paul Morris and David Dunne are being rested.

In addition, Conor O'Leary is being given an outing in goal with regular netminder, Mark Fanning, being kept in reserve.

Fitzgerald is adamant he will still have quite a strong team to face Kilkenny.

'We have many huge games ahead of us. Given the games coming so quickly, this year is always going to be about the strength in depth of the squad.

'This will be an opportunity for a number of players to stake a claim which should see us hugely competitive,' he added.

Wexford have secured their Division 1A status, but Fitzgerald is still quick to point out that the side has a way to go before consistently taking on the big teams.

'Yes, we have had an ideal start. Securing our Division 1A status was our number one goal. We have achieved that but supporters still need to be patient.

'We are making huge progress, but we still have some way to go. Let's not over-hype the situation, there's still lots of work to do,' Fitzgerald said.

Momentum is always hard to stop. Wexford may be secure in the top flight, but momentum is also with Kilkenny, having recorded two successive victories, leaving them on four points, but still not out of the relegation dogfight.

This will make them a side determined not just to end their losing sequence to Wexford, but also to secure a quarter-final spot.

Kilkenny's manager, Brian Cody, is not one to accept defeat to his great rivals, so you can never write his charges off. Cody as much as his players will be determined to bring this period of Wexford dominance in the age-old rivalry to an end.

Wexford will hand players like Michael O'Regan, Liam Rochford, Willie Devereux, Conor and Jake Firman, along with Naomh Eanna brothers Eoin and Gary Molloy, some game time, and where best to test oneself than against a rejuvenated Kilkenny outfit.

When these teams go to battle one can expect some sparks, and this should be no exception.

Gorey Guardian