Sunday 15 September 2019

Unfinished business driving McDonald on club and county front

Conor McDonald. Photo: Sportsfile
Conor McDonald. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

The conversation surrounding Wexford's hurlers under Davy Fitzgerald has been one of progression but there comes a time for Conor McDonald when it's all about silverware.

Coming through to the senior ranks on the back of successful U-21 sides which had claimed three Leinster titles in succession (2013-2015), it's something he became accustomed to but the Model men find themselves at a bit of a crossroads with Fitzgerald heading into his third year.

McDonald has no interest in standing still and demands more from himself and his team-mates if they are to reach the next step and get their hands on some hardware.

"We've been in three of the last four quarter-finals and we haven't progressed further so that's obviously one of the goals, to go one step further if not two," McDonald said.

"Personally, if I'm not winning silverware I'm failing, I'm not doing what I want to do so until that happens then nothing's going to be good enough."

It feels like McDonald has been around forever having made his senior debut in 2013, but he's still just 23 despite being one of their driving forces along with the likes of Lee Chin, Matt O'Hanlon and Liam Ryan,

Going out to Clare without a whimper in the All-Ireland quarter-final earlier this year was "a bitter pill to swallow" which left doubts about whether Fitzgerald would remain at the helm. While not part of the delegation which went to his home in Clare to help seal the deal, McDonald feels there is "unfinished business".

"When you're not getting to where you want to be, and the system and everyone in it is right, then I think a lot of the players didn't want to see an awful lot of change there. There's a good relationship," he said.

GAA Newsletter

Expert GAA analysis straight to your inbox.

While his Wexford team-mates are jetting across the Atlantic to take part in Sunday's Fenway Hurling Classic in Boston, McDonald finds himself in an unlikely position with his club Naomh éanna in the hunt for provincial honours. Despite producing legends like Ger Cushe and Billy Byrne, the Gorey club had never contested a Wexford SHC final before this year and when McDonald burst onto the scene they were only a junior club.

His ascension through the ranks has coincided with a golden era and he has an even greater affinity to the club given that he operates his gym, '14 Fitness', from their clubhouse.

Once Wexford business was concluded for 2018, it was back to brass tacks and they've been on a rollercoaster run, with intermediate 'A' football glory followed by their countyhurling final victory with McDonald firing 2-1 to help dethrone St Martin's.

While the attention of many will be on one of the world's most famous ballparks on Sunday, McDonald's eyes will be focused on the visit to Wexford Park of Henry Shefflin's Ballyhale Shamrocks for the provincial semi-final.

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: Selection dilemma for Dublin and All-Ireland ladies football final preview

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport