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'Underestimate them at your peril' - John Mullane backs Davy Fitzgerald's Wexford for All-Ireland glory

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Ciaran Wallace of Kilkenny holds off a tackle from Wexford's Joe O'Connor. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Ciaran Wallace of Kilkenny holds off a tackle from Wexford's Joe O'Connor. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Ciaran Wallace of Kilkenny holds off a tackle from Wexford's Joe O'Connor. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Davy Fitzgerald's transformative system makes Wexford serious contenders for their first Liam MacCarthy Cup in 24 years says five-time All-Star John Mullane

Speaking on the Throw-In podcast, in association with Allianz, former Waterford star Mullane added that their style of play "is going to transform the game".

"Their system is unbelievable, very hard to counteract and very hard to get your head around. For many years (we looked down on) the sweeper system - Kevin Foley just sitting down in the pocket - but we saw last year against Tipperary that their sweeper system has evolved and gone onto another level," he said.

"In Wexford Park I watched how their defenders just come in waves… and I think they're going to transform the game. It's very hard to counteract.

"You've nearly got to have eyes in the back of your head. Any opposition team going out to play Wexford now have to be extremely organised, and video analysis is going to come into it because the system that they have, the communication that they have, it takes some doing.

"No other team would have beaten Kilkenny yesterday, and Wexford ground it out because of their system of play.

"They had a chance going into the last 20 minutes simply because of their style of play.

"They started to play how football teams play - the way the Dubs can retain the ball, run down the clock for 90 seconds - Wexford were doing that for the last 5 minutes. Their ball retention was class and they wore Kilkenny out."

The Yellowbellies thundered to a strong finish in Wexford Park against the most successful county in hurling to clinch a 1-16 to 1-14 victory, despite playing against the Storm Dennis gales in the second half.

But despite recent run of wins against Kilkenny, Wexford are the sixth-favourite team to win the All-Ireland in the bookies, but Mullane believes that writing the Slaneysiders off would be a mistake.

"You can underestimate this Wexford team this year at your peril, and if any team or any county thinks they were one-hit-wonders last year, they can think twice because they are going to be an extremely hard team to beat," he said.

"They're going to be there or thereabouts come the summer, make no mistake about it. For any team to beat Wexford they're going to have to play very very well on the day, going to have to be very well organised, and I just can't get over their system.

"The magnitude and the manner in which they won - with 20 minutes to go they were one point down against the storm, it looked like there was only going to be one winner - going forward that game is massive for Wexford.

"If they keep grinding our results against Kilkenny, I think the belief is starting to really grow in this Wexford team and they're starting to believe in themselves that 'Do you know what? We are the real deal. We're as good as Tipperary, as Kilkenny, as Limerick'.

"And there is no reason why they can't push on and win a Liam MacCarthy this year."

Online Editors