O'Leary keeping his eyes on Leinster prize
When the buzz is so loud, it's hard not to hear. However, Wexford's Eoin O'Leary has been doing his best to block it all out ahead of tomorrow night's Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U-20 hurling final, writes Cathal Dennehy.
The Model County can complete a clean sweep of provincial hurling titles for the first time since 1970 if they turn over Kilkenny at Wexford Park, but O'Leary knows thinking of that feat is a sure way to lose focus.
"It's been tough on our panel seeing the minors and seniors celebrating but we need to keep ourselves grounded, not get too caught up in the buzz," he said. "I don't want to read too much into it because you get distracted."
The U-20s had been scheduled to train in Wexford Park the night of the senior homecoming, their session soon re-located a half-hour up the road to Ferns, all of them keeping their heads down while a party was breaking out elsewhere.
But the rising tide has lifted all boats, with O'Leary sensing a renewed spirit among his team-mates in recent weeks.
"It's easier for younger lads to be training and putting in three or four nights a week, looking at the seniors and thinking we could be rewarded (with senior success in the future). Seeing them helps us throw everything into it."
A five-point victory against Offaly booked Wexford's place in the final and, once that deed was done, O'Leary and his team-mates sat down the following night to study their opponents - Kilkenny, who beat Galway by four points in their semi-final earlier this month.
"We all know Kilkenny are a big outfit - they'll bring physicality, speed and smartness, they have great hurling brains," said O'Leary.
"They probably are favourites but we're going to give it a good rattle."