Saturday 20 January 2018

Dubs machine will offer stiff test for Model men

Brendan Furlong

This is a rare opportunity for Wexford Senior footballers who welcome All-Ireland champions Dublin to O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, on Sunday next for their opening round game in the O'Byrne Cup.

The game, originally fixed for St, Patrick's Park, has been switched to the New Ross venue. Given the weather conditions it was felt that it would only be feasible to host one game at the Enniscorthy venue over the weekend.

While this will be an opportunity for many of the Wexford youngsters to step up to the plate, they still come up against a Dublin side that made a clean sweep of all competitions in which they competed last year, arriving on Barrowside as O'Byrne Cup holders, National League champions along with being Leinster and All-Ireland champions.

There is no doubt but the champions will arrive with a strong squad, for outstanding defender Johnny Cooper was recently quoted as saying 'we cannot wait to get back into competitive action'.

That speaks volumes for the Dubs, who, while they will give some of their extended squad an opportunity to push their claims, will still field a sufficiently strong side they will feel comfortable with, to extend their unbeaten run.

While Wexford will be focusing on the National League with the view of gaining an immediate return to Division 3, they will still be looking towards their O'Byrne Cup games towards giving them the ideal opportunity of sorting their squad for their league opener with Leitrim at the end of January.

Manager David Power, having been hit with so many retirements and injuries in his first year in charge, will still back his young squad to show major improvement on last year. Their one noticeable scalp last year was Down in the Qualifiers, before an encouraging display away to Derry. These are the game he will be seeking to take the positive, build for the league, with no better test than that against the Dubs.

He will backbone his side with players like Graeme Molloy, Ciaran Lyng, Kevin O'Grady, Anthony Masterson, Neamhan Rossiter, Tiernan Rossiter and MichaelO'Regan.

It's a huge ask of the Wexford boys but taking an overall view it's great to see the All-Ireland champions on Model county terrain.

Wexford hurling Manager Liam Dunne will be fielding a much depleted side for their Walsh Cup opener with IT Carlow in St. Patrick's Park on Saturday afternoon.

Much of the glamour has been taken from this competition through the decision that players must give precedence to their colleges, a factor that will deny Wexford of some seven to eight players, while they will also be forced to field without the Oulart-the-Ballagh contingent.

Wexford will feel this as a missed opportunity to get their full squad together but will still call on players like Matthew O'Hanlon, Liam Ryan, Harry Kehoe, Liam Og McGovern, Dee O'Keeffe, Mark Fanning, Andrew Kenny, Andrew Shore, while players like Shane O'Gorman, David Dunne, Barry Carton and James Breen could also feature.

With the Christmas turkey just digested we are already focusing on the inter-county season.

Wexford People

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