Friday 17 November 2017

'Any team you are over, you want them to fight' - Davy Fitz and Wexford in driving seat for promotion

Allianz NHL Division 1B Wexford 1-21 Galway 3-13

David Burke of Galway in action against Aidan Nolan of Wexford Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
David Burke of Galway in action against Aidan Nolan of Wexford Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

John Fallon

It was inevitable that Davy Fitzgerald's arrival in this part of the south-east wouldn't be a quiet affair but even the most optimistic Wexford fan could not have envisaged he would instil this much rocket fuel in them so early.

Their comeback win at a foggy Pearse Stadium yesterday was a huge statement of intent and little did Fitzgerald envisage that he'd be pleading with Wexford supporters before the end of February not to lose the run of themselves.

But they have now seen off their two other main promotion rivals and, barring a disaster against Kerry, Laois or Offaly, Fitzgerald is going to be leading Wexford back to the top flight.

Galway supporters will rightly wonder why their hopes of immediate promotion lies in tatters this morning after they blew a six-point lead in the final quarter when they had the wind behind them.

But they probably need look no further than the fact that they managed only three points from play with a typical Salthill wind behind them and their only score after a goal from a penalty by Joe Canning - making a surprise but welcome return after six months out - on 52 minutes was a pointed free from their goalkeeper Colm Callanan.

Wexford, in contrast, were full of energy to the death, winning the frees which saw them come from behind to secure a priceless win and showing the sort of heart which Fitzgerald was so proud of.

Joe Canning of Galway scores his side's third goal from a penalty Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Joe Canning of Galway scores his side's third goal from a penalty Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

"Any team you are over, you want them to fight. We went down seven points, we went down six points and we went down five. We brought it back (to) a point or two and then went five down again.

Patches

"We didn't throw in the towel. That is a big sign that we didn't. I am proud of them. They worked extremely hard.

"But there is no point getting carried away. There is a long way to go yet. There is way more to go in this Wexford team. You are seeing them playing in patches.

"If I can get 70 minutes out of them the way I want them to play, if you see them at training, at certain times, they are incredible. I've got to get them working like that for the entire game and cut out the mistakes that we are making."

The game looked to be slipping away from Wexford when Conor Cooney created two goals for Galway in the opening half against the wind.

The first was bravely finished to the net by Joseph Cooney after 16 minutes when he beat the advancing goalkeeper Mark Fanning to flick it home, while midfielder Johnny Coen supplied a neat finish five minutes from the break.

That put Galway 2-7 to 0-6 in front but Wexford, as if anticipating a dressing room showdown at the break, rallied to shoot five points without reply.

Six Wexford and five Galway players were booked - it wasn't dirty but both sides knew how important victory was - as the Tribesmen edged the third quarter by 0-5 to 0-4.

Davy Fitzgerald signs autographs for supporters at the end of the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B clash against Galway Picture: Sportsfile
Davy Fitzgerald signs autographs for supporters at the end of the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B clash against Galway Picture: Sportsfile

Then Canning, out since the All-Ireland semi-final loss to Tipperary with a serious hamstring injury, announced his return by blasting a 52nd minute penalty to the net after Jason Flynn was fouled.

That made it 3-12 to 0-15 but from that point on it was all Wexford with Lee Chin particularly prominent and they won that concluding sector by 1-6 to 0-1 against the wind, an outcome which will perplex Galway fans.

"From our perspective we were disappointed with the fight," said Galway manager Micheal Donoghue. "We let them come back in. We were in a strong position and we could have fought more. We have got to take it on the chin and move on.

"Their defensive structure swarmed us really up front. We really struggled as a unit to get around it and they just kept coming back. They worked it well up the field and they got a lot of frees as well.

"From a management perspective it's about staying in the league as long as you can for us in getting as close to our first championship game."

Scorers - Wexford: C McDonald 0-7 (5f), M Fanning 1-0 (1-0 pen), L Chin (0-2f) & P Morris 0-3 each, A Nolan 0-2, S Donohoe, D Redmond, M O'Hanlon, B Carton, D O'Keefe & P Doran 0-1 each. Galway: J Flynn 0-5 (0-2f, 0-1 '65), J Cooney 1-1, J Canning 1-0 (1-0 pen), J Coen 1-0, C Cooney 0-3, C Callanan (0-1f), B Molloy, David Burke & C Whelan 0-1 each.

Wexford - M Fanning 7; E Moore 6, L Ryan 6, J Breen 6; S Donohoe 7, M O'Hanlon 7, D O'Keefe 7; S Murphy 6, B Carton 8; A Nolan 7, D Redmond 7, L Chin 9; P Morris 8, J O'Connor 6, C McDonald 8. Subs: H Kehoe 6 for O'Connor (42), P Doran 7 for Redmond (51), A Maddock 6 for Carton (55), R Kehoe 6 for Moore (59), D Dunne 6 for Nolan (62)

Galway - C Callanan 6; J Hanbury 6, A Harte 7, Daithi Burke 6; G McInerney 6, A Tuohy 6, M Donoghue 6; J Coen 7, David Burke 8; C Whelan 6, D Glennon 6, J Flynn 7; C Cooney 7, J Cooney 8, B Molloy 6. Subs: J Canning 6 for Molloy (51), R Burke 6 for McInerney (55), N Burke 6 for Glennon (71)

Ref - Cathal McAllister (Cork).

Irish Independent

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