'He'll want to come back and give it to us' - Davy Fitzgerald expecting backlash from Cody and Cats
Leinster SHC round robin: Wexford 2-28 Carlow 0-19
On the face of things it was a case of 'job done' for Wexford ahead of next Saturday's titanic duel with Kilkenny, but there was little sense of satisfaction for Davy Fitzgerald after putting Carlow to the sword.
No laurels will be rested on and with the Model boss agitated after a lacklustre second quarter saw them just two points up at the break, 1-10 to 0-11, he let his charges have it after the final whistle.
The walls at Innovate Park bellowed with his unmistakeable tone and after picking up their first provincial victory this season, it's clear all their eggs are in the basket when they face the Cats.
Fitzgerald has never hidden his admiration for Brian Cody and a twinkle appears at the thought of pitting his wits against the 11-time All-Ireland winning manager again.
"If you're a hurling man you want to go against them, you want to go toe-to-toe with them and see what happens. We've played them twice this year and we've beaten them - he (Cody) won't like that," Fitzgerald said.
"I know what he's like. He'll want to come back and give it to us. We have to meet what they are going to come with. They're coming full throttle for us and we have to be ready for that."
When Wexford's work-rate dropped, a plucky Carlow side caused trouble, but Conor McDonald's 54th-minute goal signalled the end of the game as a contest before they coasted home.
That won't be good enough against Kilkenny, as Fitzgerald knows well.
"We were in total control in the first-half and we just have to be ruthless. We went away from our game plan, we didn't get stuck in and we didn't tackle. My teams are built on working like dogs and tackling and fighting for everything," he said. "That was down to us not applying ourselves, if we do that against the Kilkennys and the Galways, we're dead. But when we do apply ourselves, we're a match for anyone. Maybe that's a lesson learned."
Carlow were hit with a Wexford flurry as Rory O'Connor (pictured) fired an early goal, but Marty Kavanagh was sublime once again at the other end and his frees kept them in touch in the early exchanges.
It looked like it would be one-way traffic when Wexford led by seven at the end of the first quarter, 1-7 to 0-3, but the visitors gained a foothold, with Chris Nolan lively in attack.
Playing with a decent breeze at their backs, Carlow needed a goal to really ruffle Wexford's feathers, but Edward Byrne and Nolan were both denied in the opening half.
McDonald was causing chaos any time the ball went his way, but Colm Bonnar's men kept the scoreboard ticking over and trailed by just two at the break as Fitzgerald left his vantage point in the stand.
There were some "choice words" at the break, but Fitzgerald got the desired reaction as they hit six of the first eight points - with three from Cathal Dunbar - to put daylight between the sides.
McDonald's goal left them eight ahead, 2-18 to 0-16, before outscoring Carlow 0-10 to 0-3 thereafter to warm up for the Cats in pleasing fashion.
Qualification from Leinster is all that is on Fitzgerald's mind.
"The most important thing is I want to be in the qualifiers, we could effectively go out of Leinster losing one game. What a Championship. I've often heard people say Leinster is easy, I haven't seen it anyway."
As for Carlow, a fourth defeat means relegation back to the Joe McDonagh Cup for 2020, with Bonnar taking lessons from their creditable displays at hurling's top table.
"It's been a hell of a journey for them. At different periods we were able to compete and on occasions dominate, but those four teams are so far ahead of us in terms of their preparation and their goals," Bonnar said.
"This time two years ago we played Kildare, Mayo and Wicklow, it's just incredible to think that. There is a gap to where we are trying to get, but you can't learn until you actually play at that level and I think there's more in these lads."
Whether Bonnar will be there next year is unclear at present, though.
"It's been a long road, I think I've done as much as I can with them. At this stage it's hard to say what's going to happen, everyone needs to sit back and just see what can we do so it'll take a small bit of thinking."
SCORERS - Wexford: L Chin 0-11 (7f, 1 '65), C McDonald 1-4, R O'Connor 1-1, C Dunbar 0-3, P Morris, P Foley, D O'Keeffe 0-2 each, S Casey, Joe O'Connor, D Dunne 0-1 each.
Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-13 (10f, 1 '65), C Nolan 0-2, S Whelan, E Nolan, JM Nolan, E Byrne 0-1 each.
WEXFORD - M Fanning 7; D Reck 7, L Ryan 7, S Donohoe 6; M O'Hanlon 7, S Murphy 6, P Foley 7; K Foley 7, D O'Keeffe 7; R O'Connor 6, L Chin 7, L Óg McGovern 7; P Morris 7, C Dunbar 7, C McDonald 8. Subs: S Reck for Murphy (blood 27), Murphy for Reck (32), A Nolan 6 for Morris (50), S Casey 7 for McGovern and D Dunne 6 for O'Connor (both 59), S Reck 6 for Donohoe (60), J O'Connor for Dunbar (70).
CARLOW - B Tracey 7; K McDonald 7, P Doyle 6, M Doyle 6; E Nolan 7, D English 6, R Coady 6; J Kavanagh 6, S Whelan 7; JM Nolan 6, M Kavanagh 8, E Byrne 6; J Doyle 6, T Joyce 5, C Nolan 7. Subs: J Nolan 6 for Joyce (57), S Murphy 6 for E Byrne (64), G Coady for M Doyle (66), D Byrne for JM Nolan (67).
REF - C Cunning (Antrim)