Tuesday 20 March 2018

Wexford young guns hope to bridge 27-year gap

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

CARPE Diem -- that has to be the motto for the young guns of Dublin and Wexford who contest the Leinster Minor Hurling final at Croke Park tomorrow.

The reality of sport is that a good minor doesn't always make the grade at senior level, so for some of the players on each side, this could be their career high. Conversely, there are those who never got to play minor for their county but who ended up winning All-Ireland medals.

Wexford minor manager Martin Storey is a case in point. He has guided the Model County U-18s to the provincial decider, but he never got the chance to represent Wexford at that level.

"I was never picked for the minors, but I went on to play senior inter-county hurling for 16 years," said the former All-Ireland winner.

"And look at Eddie Brennan -- eight senior All-Ireland medals and he didn't play minor for Kilkenny."

By throw-in tomorrow, the distant past and future career prospects will mean nothing to the two finalists.

The Wexford lads can't afford to think about the weight of history, which reveals that the Model boys haven't won a Leinster minor title since 1985.

And the boys in blue will find it meaningless that they are reigning champions -- no team from the capital has managed two successive minor hurling championships since 1953-54.

And Storey doesn't reckon that Wexford's first-round defeat of the Dubs in extra-time at Parnell Park in May will give them any advantage.

"It will have absolutely no bearing on the final. Dublin would have to be favourites. They are reigning Leinster champions. As well as that, they've beaten Kilkenny, who always produce good minor teams," he said.

"We're just hoping that our lads show the potential they undoubtedly have. If they can do that, we'll be there or thereabouts."

Dublin boss Shay Boland has made no changes from the side which beat Kilkenny 1-12 to 0-10 in the semi-final.

His team includes Eric Lowndes, Cormac Costello and Conor McHugh, all dual players who will change code for Wednesday's Leinster MFC semi-final against Kildare.

Lowndes had been doubtful due to a hand injury he suffered against Kilkenny, but has been passed fit to take his place at corner-back.

Wexford show one change from their 1-24 to 1-10 semi-final win over Laois, with Oliver O'Leary of Buffer's Alley taking over in goal from Luke White. O'Leary had started against Offaly and Dublin, but Storey ensured that White got game time by selecting him for the semi-final.

The teams are clearly very evenly matched as was evident by their meeting earlier in the campaign, and they each possess two fine sharpshooters.

Dublin's left corner-forward Paul Winters has notched up 2-24 (0-19 from frees) in three outings to date. He, too, was on the doubtful list through injury but is ready for action.

Tony French showed the Dubs what he could do by scoring 0-15 of Wexford's 0-22 in beating them at Parnell Park.

DUBLIN -- C MacGabhann; S Barrett, C O'Callaghan, E Lowndes; E O'Donnell, R Murphy, S McClelland; C Costello, C Cronin; C McHugh, S Treacy, C Conway; O O'Rorke, C Boland, P Winters.

WEXFORD -- L White; S Doyle, S Murphy, E Conroy; L Ryan, A Kenny, A Roche; C Heffernan C Devitt; K Foley, S Kenny, J O'Connor; J Broaders, C McDonald, T French.

Irish Independent

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