THE vagaries of the fixture system ensure that Wexford and Offaly footballers are making up for lost time.
Last year, their paths never crossed in the O'Byrne Cup, league or Leinster championship, but the Slaneysiders and the Faithful County are already on course for their second meeting inside the first few weeks of 2014.
Wexford Park is the venue for clash number two tomorrow when league points are at stake in their Allianz NFL Division 3 meeting of relegated Wexford and promoted Offaly.
Wexford forward Ben Brosnan is braced for an Offaly backlash following the victory achieved by Aidan O'Brien's team when they put one over on the Faithful footballers on January 12.
Apart from their recent meeting, all concerned appreciate that Division 3 will be a highly competitive section, and there is every incentive for both sides to make a fast start to their league campaign.
"It's going to be a tough one," said Brosnan. "We played them in the O'Byrne Cup in Tullamore and it was a close game.
"We got a bit of run on them in the last five or six minutes of the first half, but they did come back at us in the second half. We were lucky enough to hang on.
"They were missing a few players that day, as were we, so you can't take too much out of the O'Byrne Cup. In saying that, we know they'll be thinking about us having beaten them on their home patch, and they'll want to do the same to us."
Wexford have made a decent start to their year and narrowly missed out on a place in the O'Byrne Cup semi-finals.
Tomorrow, their season steps up a level, and it will be interesting to see how they fare in the league and championship without county stalwarts Redmond Barry and David Murphy, who retired at the end of 2013.
Experienced goalkeeper Anthony Masterson is taking a break and focusing on his business at the moment, so the Wexford camp have to operate without a few familiar faces.
"It takes a bit of time to get used to. Usually at this time of year 'Red' and 'Murf' and Anthony Masterson would be the ones talking at training.
"It's not a good thing 'Red' and Dave have retired, but it does push other people to step up and take the initiative and provide some leadership.
"In the past, lads might have tended to be quiet and waited for Dave and 'Red' to be the leaders of the group.
"We're still quite a young side, but we've got to go forward without those older lads that gave such great service," said Brosnan.
Looking ahead to the Offaly game, Brosnan accepts that, in terms of personnel, both sides will have a markedly different starting line-up compared with their recent encounter in O'Connor Park.
"It was pointed out to us that we only had four starters in the O'Byrne Cup game with Offaly who started against Laois in the championship last year.
"We used around 35 players in the O'Byrne Cup, so Aidan (O'Brien) was looking at a lot of lads.
"You couldn't take too much out of the game as regards the league, but it was good to get a performance that day.
"No matter who you're playing against or what players are wearing the jerseys, you're still representing your county and it's expected you will produce a good standard," he said.
On a personal note, Brosnan hopes for a good run of consistent performances and that the team can challenge for promotion.
All the other teams are pointing towards Cavan as likely contenders and Wexford are no exception.
"Looking at Cavan, after the year they had last year, they'll be favourites for the division. It's a help that we have them at home.
"We've got tough away games against Roscommon, Limerick and Fermanagh, but there really is no easy match for any team in this division," asserted Brosnan.
Wexford's schedule is: tomorrow v Offaly (home); February 9 v Roscommon (away); March 2 v Cavan (home); March 9 v Limerick (away); March 16 v Sligo (home); March 30 v Fermanagh (away); April 6 v Longford (home).