Thursday 14 December 2017

Dooley feels Tullamore factor can prove crucial for Faithful

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

OFFALY have to go back 12 years for their last championship win over Wexford and Faithful star Shane Dooley insists the midlanders "owe them one" ahead of tomorrow night's renewal (throw-in 7.0).

In their last meeting in 2009, the Slaneysiders made home advantage count when recording a seven-point win, but this game marks the first time Offaly face Wexford in the championship on their own turf, despite some 33 meetings in the provincial championship to date.

Previous clashes have been settled at either Croke Park or Nowlan Park before the home and away agreement came into effect late in the last decade.

For some, however, Tullamore is a home away from home for Offaly hurling. Despite the excellent facilities in O'Connor Park, some Offaly supporters still insist the Faithful should play their home matches in Birr, close to the spiritual heartland of hurling in the county, but Dooley insists that playing in Tullamore can work to their benefit.

"To be honest, I can't remember hurling in Birr," Dooley said. "The fact that it's in Tullamore is a bonus for me anyway. It's still our home pitch at the minute and we're going to treat it that way.

underestimate

"Wexford Park was their home pitch the last day and it worked for them. Hopefully, it will work in our favour this time.

"For us, we haven't really won a big game in Leinster in the last few years, so it's huge for us. You couldn't underestimate how big it is for us.

"We're going to be giving it everything. I've played once against them and they got one over on us and beat us well that day. We'll be looking for one back on them."

Tomorrow's clash also marks championship bows for Wexford manager Liam Dunne and Offaly boss Ollie Baker.

The Model men enjoyed the upper hand in their league clash in the spring when they came from nine points down in the final few minutes to nick a win in Wexford Park to continue their dominance of this fixture in recent years and Dooley maintains there'll be no excuses if they don't turn the tables in this encounter.

"I'd see it as a good rivalry between ourselves and Wexford down through the years. They've had the upper hand for the last while, but, hopefully, this will change on Saturday," he said.

"Things have gone well -- we're happy enough. There's always a bit of a difference in years when a new manager comes in, but things are going well."

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