Juniors seek final spot
Traditional powerhouse Kerry will be tough opponents
Published 21/07/2015 | 00:00
Tradition will favour Kerry but Wexford are confident of adding to the drama already delivered when the sides clash in the All-Ireland Junior football championship semi-final at Fraher Field, Dungarvan, on Saturday (2 p.m.).
When it comes to national titles, Wexford may be novices where Kerry are concerned, but the county management have ingrained a winning mentality into this young squad, which became to apparent in the provincial final victory over Meath.
Wexford looked dead and buried as the Royal county were preparing for what they believed would be a cup presentation, but the battling Model county lads struck for a late, late Jamie Carty winning goal, a score that ripped the hearts out of the visitors.
Inevitably, in the aftermath of such a dramatic victory, celebrations flowed 1n the county grounds. Wexford, after such an indifferent period in this grade under various managements, had responded with a provincial title under new boss, David Power, his first piece of silverware in his initial year at the helm of the county's Senior and Junior squads.
Wexford football does not often have such days but when they arrive they make it all worthwhile. But since this victory one has seen both Anthony Masterson and James Breen enter centre stage with the Seniors, and they will prove huge losses.
In an effort to bolster his squad, Power had drafted in two members of this year's Minor team, Mikie Dwyer (Fethard) and Mark Rossiter (Gusserane), along with Adamstown's Paudie Barden. St. Fintan's clubman, Donal Shanley, back from the States, who made a brief provincial final appearance, is likely to figure from the start.
In the absence of Castletown's Anthony Masterson, manager Power said the goalkeeping position lies between Richard Cleary (St. Anne's) and Luke Rafter (Glynn-Barntown).
The Wexford boss is happy with the side's preparation for the game. 'We have played a number of challenge games, against sides such as Stradbally (Waterford), The Nire (Waterford) who were beaten Munster club finalists, and Kilkenny, who are in the second semi-final.
'We realise the challenge facing us. Kerry were beaten in last year's final and have six of that team, while the majority of their side also have Sigerson Cup experience,' he said.
'They will be a formidable force, of that there's no doubt, but we are looking forward to the challenge. We will have respect for them, give them respect, but having said we are going out to win. Winning games is hard to beat.
'We had a good provincial campaign, so the longer you keep winning games the better it's going to be for you. Once you go into the All-Ireland semi-final out of a tough provincial campaign, you are in a strong position.'
This will be a huge test for this young Wexford side. Kerry, irrespective of the grade, are always a tough nut to crack, but given the positive feeling around the Model county camp they could very well make the Kingdom sweat.
Meanwhile, with Wexford's inter-county activity beginning to wind down, a number of players are taking time out by crossing the Atlantic.
Three of the county's Senior footballers, Naomhan Rossiter (St. Mary's, Rosslare), Eoghan Nolan (Shelmaliers) and Kieran Butler (Geraldine O'Hanrahans), are spending the summer months in the States and will not be available to their clubs, while Cloughbawn have also lost the services of forward Barry Carton who played in Wednesday's Leinster Intermediate hurling final.
Reigning Senior champions, St. Anne's, have lost out on Diarmuid O'Keeffe once they resume football activity over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Senior inter-county hurler is currently holidaying in South America.
There was mixed emotions for Davidstown-Courtnacuddy clubman, David Dunne, on Wednesday.
The attacker was a last-minute withdrawal from the Wexford intermediate hurling team which lost the provincial intermediate final to Galway, as his clearance for America came through earlier in the day.
While Dunne could have figured in the final, participation would have ruled him out of playing in the States for the summer months.