| 15.2°C Dublin

Debutant O'Connor gets Wexford captaincy

WEXFORD have handed the captain's armband to a 21-year-old debutant for Sunday's Guinness Leinster SHC semi-final with Kilkenny.

Local protocol decreed that John O'Connor, the only representative from county champions Rathnure selected on the starting 15, would lead the side against the All-Ireland champions.

It's a strange practice but one which the Wexford management have had to adhere to because of the by-law that gives the local champions the decision on captaincy.

At 21, it's a daunting task for O'Connor, a nephew of former Wexford great of the 1960s and '70s Teddy. But O'Connor is no stranger to skippering sides and had the honour in 1997 when Wexford won the Tony Forristal Cup (under-14) for the only time.

Michael O'Leary, the original choice for captain, failed to make the starting team and has to be content with a place on the bench.

Last year's captain Paul Codd, also from Rathnure, must be satisfied with a substitute's role as a chest muscle injury has not healed up in time.

Larry Murphy and Colm Kehoe also miss out as Wexford give first championship starts to five players. Eoin Quigley, named at centre-forward, has never started a competitive game for Wexford. But Wexford manager John Conran is satisfied that Quigley can fit the bill in Codd's place.

Mossie Mahon is included from the start for the first time at midfield in a championship game despite coming on in all Wexford's games last summer.

Malachy Travers, named at right corner-back, got brief exposure against Cork in last year's All-Ireland semi-final replay but Paul Carley will be tasting championship hurling for the first time ever.

Wexford manager John Conran is pleased with the preparations since their acrimonious end to the league campaign when rumours of strife in the camp, in the wake of so many sudden departures, would not abate.

Sport Newsletter

Get the best analysis and comment from our award-winning team of writers and columnists with our free newsletter.

This field is required

"We've kept the head down and trained hard which was the only thing to do. God knows we got enough publicity towards the end of the league," he said.

"There have been times when numbers have been affected by training but by and large we've put a lot of work in."

Colm Keys

Most Watched