independent

Monday 16 October 2017

O'Hanlon 'top of the world'

Brendan Furlong

The battle of the big men between Matthew O'Hanlon and Walter Walsh, two Good Counsel past pupils
The battle of the big men between Matthew O'Hanlon and Walter Walsh, two Good Counsel past pupils

After years in the hurling wilderness and so used to playing second fiddle to provincial kingpins Kilkenny, Wexford are savouring a sweet victory over the Cats.

Their drive for four Leinster titles in a row is over as David Redmond's second-half goal saw Wexford into their first provincial final since 2008 after a 1-20 to 3-11 victory at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.

It marked a second victory over Brian Cody's charges following earlier success in the Allianz League quarter-final, but this win carried far greater significance as the joyous scenes among supporters on the pitch highlighted afterwards.

Joint captain Matthew O'Hanlon summed up just how much it meant to him and his team-mates.

'I'm top of the world, top of the world,' he said.

'It's a great feeling, we're back into a Leinster final, back to Croke Park where we want to be.'

The St. James' clubman said they had to adapt to the windy conditions.

'It was difficult. There was a strong breeze at our backs in the first-half.

'It's very difficult to play in those conditions. You see Kilkenny had several wides in the first-half.

'We knew in the second-half we'd have to work the ball in closer and be selective in our shots.

'I think we did just that and won a few frees at vital times that kept us ticking over.

'Wexford teams in the past may have died away, but there's serious character in that team and we kept coming back, kept coming back.'

O'Hanlon said their response to each Kilkenny score was a marked difference to what would have happened in previous years.

'Wexford teams in the past may have died away, but there's serious character in that team and we kept coming back, kept coming,' he said.

'Kilkenny are the benchmark for so many years.

'We've been on the wrong end of several beatings from them so we knew whatever they were going to bring down here, it was going to be a phenomenal battle.

'And it was. They brought the best out of us,' the defensive stalwart added.

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