Sunday 21 January 2018

Davy's boys no wide-eyed innocents

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: David Maher/Sportsfile Newsdesk Newsdesk

When Waterford topped 1B of the Allianz hurling League in 2015 and beat Galway in the quarter-final, it was assumed that was as far as they would go because Tipperary awaited them in the semi-final.

Even when they recovered from some early setbacks and won that game, they were outsiders going into the final against Cork. Wrong again - Waterford won by 10 points. When Clare emerged as 1B winners last year, it was thought their league race would end against Tipperary in the quarter-final. It didn't.

Nor was it halted by Kilkenny, who were hit for 4-23 in the semi-final. And while the final against Waterford went to a replay, Clare eventually took the title for the first time since 1978.

Wexford have built on their 1B promotion success this year by beating Kilkenny in the quarter-final, a victory that in psychological terms is invaluable to them.

Still, they are long outsiders to beat Tipperary in the semi-final. Davy Fitzgerald is happy to play along with the image of Wexford as wide-eyed hopefuls, who can't believe their good luck.

Don't believe a word of it. Wexford have hinted at a change of fortunes for the past few years under Liam Dunne who, in fairness, had his plans last year seriously undermined by injury. Still, Wexford beat Cork in the qualifiers and in 2014 they ended Clare's reign as All-Ireland champions and later beat Waterford.

The big difference this year has been in their much greater consistency, which has taken them to six successive wins, three of which were over Limerick, Galway and Kilkenny. Now, the challenge is to build on it.

Meanwhile, when last were Kilkenny at 7/2 in April for the All-Ireland? I can't see those odds lasting very long.

Irish Independent

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