Monday 22 January 2018

Davy will have tricks up his sleeve for cats

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Cyril Farrell

Everyone has been talking about Wexford playing Kilkenny - and Davy Fitz clashing with Brian Cody - since the Championship draw was made last year so the Model men will be delighted to have swatted Laois aside with the minimum of fuss yesterday.

That was a potential banana skin for Davy and now all focus will be on the Cats. They went about their job in a professional manner and never really looked troubled, with Shaun Murphy brilliant again as sweeper. Whatever Wexford Park can hold on June 10, you can bet there'll be an extra few hundred people squeezed in somewhere because this is going to be box-office and hopefully we'll see something like Tipp and Cork again to light a spark in the Leinster SHC. Forewarned is forearmed, however, and Kilkenny will be ready.

They saw Wexford's cards in Nowlan Park during the League (particularly their new-found physicality and use of a sweeper), and with Michael Fennelly playing an hour for Ballyhale last weekend between midfield and centre-back, and Ger Aylward hitting a hat-trick for Glenmore, things are coming right at the perfect time. They'll believe they have the tools to take Wexford down but it'll take an almighty effort. I watched one of Wexford's sessions recently before they went on a training camp in Portugal and it was ferocious stuffs so it should be a belter.

And knowing Davy - and I know him only too well - he'll have plenty more tricks up his sleeve.

I made a swift journey from the Curragh after the Guineas to watch Offaly v Westmeath, and it was well worth the spin. Offaly badly needed a win and Emmet Nolan's brilliant second-half goal changed the game.

It was looking dicey for Kevin Ryan and at half-time it was hard to see them winning but they looked a different side in the second half, and Paddy Murphy's introduction at the break had a huge bearing on the result.

That win should really lift them and while the standard wasn't wonderful, there was serious pressure on Offaly to get a result after least year's shock defeat. The last ten minutes was helter-skelter, with Shane Dooley showing all his opportunism, and his bloodlines, to ensure the smash-and-grab victory.

Westmeath will be wondering how they lost but while Offaly traditionally never fear any Galway side, every line will have to drop deep if they wish to cause them trouble, or they risk being ripped apart in defence. That'll leave them short up front but the longer they can stay in the game the better. The last thing they need is to concede early goals.

Irish Independent

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