independent

Wednesday 22 November 2017

It's Waterford again!

Third championship clash with neighbours in four years

Conor McDonald and his Wexford colleagues will renew rivalry with Austin Gleeson’s Waterford, almost one year to the day since the Deise county beat us by ten points in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles
Conor McDonald and his Wexford colleagues will renew rivalry with Austin Gleeson’s Waterford, almost one year to the day since the Deise county beat us by ten points in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles

Brendan Furlong

Wexford will face neighbours Waterford in the All-Ireland Senior hurling championship quarter-final, with the game taking place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork on Sunday, July 23, at 4 p.m.

The same venue will also host the meeting of Tipperary and Clare on the previous day, with a 3 p.m. throw-in.

Manager Davy Fitzgerald was probably relieved that he could not face his native Clare at this stage of the championship, and the beaten Munster finalists and Wexford were in the same pot for the draw.

Instead he has been paired with Waterford, a side which he knows quite well, having coached and managed the county from 2008 when he almost led them to eventual glory after a few months.

When the four teams were separated, with the two beaten provincial finalists in one drum, and the two sides to emerge from the qualifiers in the opposite drum, the Wexford management, players and supporters waited in anticipation to know who their quarter-final opponents would be.

The first county out of the bowl was Clare who were pitted against Munster rivals, Tipperary, and that left Wexford drawn against neighbours Waterford.

Last year, having beaten Cork in the qualifiers in Semple Stadium, for the first time since 1956, Wexford lost out to Waterford in the quarter-final at the same venue on a 0-21 to 0-11 scoreline.

There was a far better outcome back in 2014 when, after disposing of reigning All-Ireland champions Clare, then managed by Fitzgerald, Wexford beat Waterford in the qualifiers in Nowlan Park on a 3-15 to 2-15 scoreline.

While Waterford will feel on a roll of form having beaten Kilkenny after extra-time last Saturday evening, Wexford will be re-grouping and focusing on this game following the disappointment of their Leinster final loss to Galway.

Even though there was disappointment at the provincial final defeat, Wexford have still come a long way in Fitzgerald's seven months in charge, with promotion back to Division 1A of the league, a league semi-final, two defeats of Kilkenny, and a provincial final appearance for the first time in nine years.

In that Leinster final it was a period in the lead-up to half-time, and a twelve-minute spell early in the second-half that determined Wexford's fortunes.

That's an area of their game that Fitzgerald will be paying special attention to given that they showed in that first-half they had arrived as a side to match the best of the rest.

Much has been made of the penalty incident which many felt had a huge bearing on Galway's subsequent twelve minutes of dominance, when 'keeper Colm Callanan got down to save Conor McDonald's shot, but an interesting theory has emerged.

Netminder Mark Fanning had taken previous penalties, but from my own stats his record has not been consistent. Fanning had missed his last two penalties, while he had scored just two out of his last five, so perhaps this had a bearing on the decision making.

Wexford returned to full training on the Tuesday night following the provincial final, with Fitzgerald not allowing any time for self-pity.

New Ross Standard

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