Hurlers heading to Croker for first time since 2008
All Wexford G.A.A. fans have pencilled in Sunday, May 29, as the first really big day on the inter-county scene for 2016 after the Leinster championship fixture details were completed at a meeting in Portlaoise on Wednesday.
Croke Park will be the destination of choice for a double-header featuring our quarter-final clashes against Kildare in football at 2 p.m., followed by the hurling game against Dublin at 4 p.m. which will also be televised live.
Amazingly, it will be the Senior hurlers' first appearance at headquarters since the Leinster final loss of 2008 to Kilkenny. And if they overcome the Dubs, they will face the daunting task of taking on the reigning All-Ireland champions in the semi-final in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday, June 11, at 7 p.m.
A victory for the footballers would secure another trip to Croke Park for the semi-final on Sunday, June 26, against Longford, Offaly or Westmeath. The iconic venue on Jones' Road will also host both provincial finals, with the hurling on July 3 and the football a fortnight later.
The Minor hurlers, under a new management team led by 1996 All-Ireland winner Eamonn Scallan, will get an immediate chance to atone for this year's loss to Westmeath when they travel to Cusack Park in Mullingar to meet them on Saturday, April 9.
One week later the Minor footballers will be odds-on favourites to see off lowly Kilkenny in Nowlan Park, and if that game goes to plan they will be through to the quarter-finals on May 21. The semi-finals are on Wednesday, July 6, with the final in Croke Park eleven days later.
The Minor hurling second round is pencilled in for April 23, with the quarter-finals one week later. In a change from the norm, the semi-finals will also take place before the exams, on May 14, with the final fixed for July 3.
As per usual, the first inter-county team in championship action will be the Under-21 footballers who will be at home to Longford on Wednesday, February 24, with either Bellefield or Taghmon the most likely venue. A victory would earn another home venue for a quarter-final against Westmeath on March 2.
The semi-finals are down for March 16 or 19, with the final on Wednesday, March 30.
The Under-21 hurlers, our most successful inter-county team in recent years, will have a tough passage in their quest to secure a fourth successive Leinster title. They will entertain Dublin in the quarter-final in Innovate Wexford Park on June 1, and the winners will face Kilkenny or Westmeath a fortnight later at an away venue. The final will go ahead on July 6.
The Intermediate hurlers will have a semi-final clash against Galway in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, on June 29, with the victors set to face Kilkenny on July 13. The Junior football championship arrangements were not finalised at the meeting.
The inter-county action will get under way with a real bang on Sunday, January 3, as All-Ireland champions Dublin will visit a Wexford venue for the Bord na Móna O'Byrne Cup Senior football opener. And David Power's side won't have to travel for any of the group games as they will also host D.C.U. on Wednesday, January 6, and I.T. Carlow on Sunday, January 10, with the top team to advance to the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Liam Dunne's hurlers will be on the road twice in Group 3 of the Bord na Móna Walsh Cup, although their year will begin at home to I.T. Carlow on January 3 also.
They will be away to Meath on January 10 and away to Carlow seven days later.