Saturday 24 August 2019

Davy's mind games won't faze Cats

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

If Davy Fitzgerald was less well-known to the GAA beaks, they might well have summoned him before them to account for his recommendation to bet against Wexford in their final Leinster hurling round-robin game in Nowlan Park on Saturday evening.

It sounded like the ultimate insider information, offered after watching his team deliver an insipid performance against Galway last Saturday

"If I was a betting man, I would put my house on Kilkenny," he said, before returning quickly to a more upbeat mood.

"But you'd never know, we might pull a performance. We were very flat this evening," he said.

One suspects that Brian Cody will have paid far more heed to the comment about "pulling a performance" than an admission that there really wasn't much point in turning up. Fitzgerald had warned a week earlier that Wexford's three-game schedule in 13 days might leave them vulnerable against Galway which, in fairness, appeared to be the case.

That goes to four games in 20 days on Saturday and with Kilkenny having had a 13-day break since losing to Galway, it will take a mighty effort by Wexford if they are to book a place in the Leinster final for a second successive year.

However, the sight of the black-and-amber jersey could be precisely what they need to discover a new burst of energy.

They under-performed against Kilkenny in the league semi-final in early April, losing by nine points, precisely the same margin as the defeat against Galway last Saturday.

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It makes Saturday evening's game very important for Wexford as if they were to suffer another sizeable defeat it would raise questions about their capacity to challenge for All-Ireland honours.

Saturday's winners will advance to a Leinster final meeting with Galway while the losers (plus the third-placed side in Munster) will qualify for an All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final against Joe McDonagh Cup finalists Westmeath and Carlow or Antrim.

Westmeath have already qualified for the final and could have a major influence on who joins them.

If they beat Carlow (6pts) and Antrim (4pts) beat Kerry on Saturday, the Ulster men will go through to the final on the head-to-head rule, having already beaten Carlow.

A win or a draw would be enough for Carlow to book a place in the final irrespective of how Antrim fare. The McDonagh Cup final will be played as a curtain-raiser to the Leinster final on July 1, with the winners replacing Offaly in next year's Leinster championship.

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