Wednesday 13 December 2017

Fitzy's Model men dare to dream that promotion is achievable

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

Martin Breheny

It may be only Wexford's second game in the Allianz Hurling League but their trip to Pearse Stadium to face Galway on Sunday could be hugely significant in shaping their season.

A win would leave them favourites for promotion, having beaten the two teams who dominated the pre-season Division 1B odds. The victory over Limerick, which has seen John Kiely's men drift from 6/4 to 7/1 to top the group, sent hopes soaring in Wexford that they could be on their way to the top flight in their first season under Davy Fitzgerald.

The manager moved quickly to apply the reality breaks after the Limerick win, pointing out that he and the squad were in the very early stages of a lengthy process.

"Still, it's nice to beat one of the better teams but there are some very tough days ahead. We won't be getting carried away," he said.

His caution is understandable, but coming after Wexford were unlucky to lose to Kilkenny by a point in the Walsh Cup semi-final, having beaten Dublin a week earlier, all the early indicators are positive.

Favourites

Indeed, if Wexford were to beat Galway, they would become clear favourites for promotion, with three games remaining against Kerry (home), Offaly (away) and Laois (home).

Fitzgerald's predecessor Liam Dunne insisted all along that there was a lot of genuine talent in the county but bad luck with injuries weakened the squad for much of last year. They are still way short of full strength but morale-boosting wins like the one they enjoyed last Sunday (recovering from a six-point deficit to win by three) will accelerate the rate of progress.

This Sunday's test marks a further step up in class against a Galway side that demolished Offaly four days ago.

Wexford finished third in 1B in each of the last three seasons, during which they won eight of 15 games. Promotion proved beyond them on each occasion but it's no longer such a long shot following last weekend's early burst of enterprise.

Fitzgerald has repeatedly called for patience in Wexford but already there's a sense in the county that exiting days are ahead, which is why a sizeable contingent are expected to make the journey west on this occasion.

They will be hoping for a better day out than they experienced for Wexford's last clash with Galway, when the Model men lost by 21 points in the opening round of the 2011 League in Pearse Stadium.

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