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Joe Fortune on a high after leading Westmeath to win over his native county

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Joe Fortune has a word after the game with three-year-old Oisín Craig, son of Aaron (left), the former St. Anne’s clubman. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Joe Fortune has a word after the game with three-year-old Oisín Craig, son of Aaron (left), the former St. Anne’s clubman. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Wexford manager Darragh Egan ahead of the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 4 match between Westmeath and Wexford at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar, Westmeath. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Wexford manager Darragh Egan ahead of the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 4 match between Westmeath and Wexford at TEG Cusack Park in Mullingar, Westmeath. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

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Joe Fortune has a word after the game with three-year-old Oisín Craig, son of Aaron (left), the former St. Anne’s clubman. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

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AS WEXFORD native Joe Fortune celebrated a special day for his Westmeath charges, in the process he left Darragh Egan and the Model county with their championship aspirations hanging by a thread.

Fortune’s involvement brought added spice to the occasion, and the Enniscorthy native described the shock draw with Wexford as a special day for Westmeath people.

“You could hear them at the end, they simply drove us on, especially through that second-half,” he said.

“I can only commend the group. In the circle (post-match) we said we have to go down to Laois in O’Moore Park next Saturday.

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“Performances like this are great and it’s a special day for Westmeath people, but we need to go down to Laois and get a result there as well,” he added, referring to their final round game where a draw or victory would preserve their Liam MacCarthy Cup status, but a loss would lead to relegation back to the Joe McDonagh Cup.

Fortune, while recognising the superb team effort, still singled out long-serving substitute Derek McNicholas for his contribution.

“What a stalwart for Westmeath hurling he has been. I still think there is so much more in him to be honest with you. When he came on, he had that bit of composure and class that we needed up front.

“I am a proud Wexford man, but I’m proud to be a Westmeath manager today. We had a dark day down in Galway.

“It’s funny that on days like that, the phone doesn’t ring, nobody wants to see you or talk to you.

“The group was always solid. We knew we were working hard. They put in a performance today and I believe they deserved the draw.”

As for Wexford manager Darragh Egan, he rejected the suggestion that there was any complacency within his squad.

“I don’t believe complacency was the reason once you look at the stats. We simply failed to put away our chances, a total of 21 wides,” he said, as he rued his side’s shortcomings.

“We knew coming up here it was going to be a savage battle. We just did not give ourselves a platform to go on and win the game. Twenty-one wides is just not acceptable at this level.

“We didn’t show any clinical nature at all. We kept them in the game. We went four points up in the second-half, and couldn’t push on. We hit some very bad wides.

“Now we must pick ourselves up for Kilkenny. Another huge ask but we have known for some weeks that this final round game could be huge. That’s what it is,” he added.


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