Wexford hurlers are on high alert ahead of Kerry challenge

Darragh Egan with the Wexford substitutes before the win over Kilkenny.

Brendan FurlongWexford People

WEXFORD SHOULD have an edge in Saturday’s All-Ireland Senior hurling championship preliminary quarter-final against Kerry in Austin Stack Park, Tralee (2 p.m.), but team manager Darragh Egan will be taking nothing for granted.

“The training has been going particularly well, and it was the same over the previous six weeks,” he said.

“We have been working on every aspect of our game. We know we will get chances against Kerry so it is up to us to put them away.

“We were disappointed with the Westmeath result, the players were very disappointed. It was a case like in earlier games when we did not put away our chances.

“We have suffered for our wastefulness in past games. There’s no doubt we were struggling in front of goal, but I’m confident that will come right against Kerry.

“We have the quality in attack. They have been scoring in training so it is up to us now to bring it to match time.

“They will simply have to bring it to the Kerry game,” he added.

Egan is certain that Kerry will bring a strong challenge, having attended their narrow Joe McDonagh Cup final loss to Antrim in Croke Park on Saturday (5-22 to 4-24).

“Apart from the opening 20 minutes they won the game. They are a very strong, committed side while skill-wise they are also right there.

“Look at Jordan Conway and Shane Conway. Jordan showed his scoring prowess when coming on as a substitute, while Shane is a quality hurler.

“He may not have been as good against Antrim, but he is still a huge player for them.

“We are fully aware of what’s ahead of us. We are looking no further than this. We will have to approach it properly as we went up to Westmeath and we saw what happened once we failed in front of goal.

“They also have Stephen (Molumphy) and Pat (Bennett) who were with Wexford before, so they will know plenty about us.

“We have got to be prepared and treat Kerry the same as any other side.

“They may be having their third weekend in a row, but home advantage should be a great help in overcoming that. The mood all through in our camp has been good, while the Kilkenny victory also helped considerably.

“We will have to bring the right attitude from the moment we get on the bus on Friday afternoon. Should we bring that, we should be capable of delivering a result,” Egan said.

Wexford have no new injury concerns, while they are boosted by the return to full fitness of defender Shane Reck.

“Shane is back fully training and is in contention for selection which gives us extra options in defence,” the manager said.

“Shaun (Murphy) is training but is not in contention for this game. His training is going well but he needs more time following his back operation.

“We have a full squad which is a huge boost at this time of the season, particularly following such a hectic programme of league and championship games.

“We are not even thinking beyond Kerry. We have prepared well, the extra week has given us time which the players have availed of.

“It’s given more rest time, along with time to build on their hurling. We know the challenge and the level we need to get, otherwise we could be out of the championship.

“I’m confident that the players have the edge fully back following that Kilkenny victory, having also learned from the Westmeath game.

“From here on in it’s always going to be last chance saloon,” said Egan, who will be hoping to turn his attention towards Clare in the quarter-final on June 18 in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s game.