Acid test in store
Win over Waterford will earn promotion
With an easing injury list and growing confidence, Wexford's bid for promotion to the top flight cannot be ignored when they entertain neighbours Waterford in a crucial Allianz Hurling League Division game at Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday (2pm).
With the exception of corner-forward Paul Morris, who is recovering from a knee ligament problem, manager Liam Dunne and his management team are confident they will have a full squad of players available, although the Ferns player is by no means ruled out of the equation at the moment.
Attacker Jack Guiney is having a scan on a groin problem this Thursday, but is expected to be fit, while Tomás Waters (hamstring), Daithí Waters (flu) and Ciarán Kenny (groin) will be fit to push for a return to the side having missed the win over Laois. Defender Pádraig Foley, who retired following a knock to the head, will be fully fit to take his place.
Wexford have conceded high scores in league games to date, something Dunne will be paying particular attention to when the team to play high-flying Waterford is being selected, particularly as Sunday's opponents are unbeaten and have been lethal in attack.
It was always going to be interesting to see how Wexford would react to their narrow loss to Limerick, but Dunne was happy with the way his players responded.
'Offaly beating Limerick gave us all a lift and put everything very much back in our own hands, and in fairness the response was positive,' he said.
The players turned their focus to the Laois game and achieved the result despite some late defections from the original team.
'Tomás Waters tested his hamstring by hurling on the wall on Saturday afternoon and wasn't happy. Daithí (Waters) reported with flu, so we decided to pull both out.
'I had released players not in the starting 15 to play with their clubs so had to make contact with Naomh Eanna to pull Eoin Conroy out of their league game which was at half-time by that stage,' he explained.
'Our hand was forced but we dealt with what was presented. My plan is to release players to their clubs for league games who are not in the first 15 so as they will get game time.'
The selection for the Waterford game will be an interesting one, with the Munster men only needing a draw to be promoted after sharing the spoils with Limerick whereas we need both points.
'It's now all back in our own hands. We are playing for promotion, as are Waterford, so it will bring a huge edge to this game. From now on every game is a knockout.
Sunday's game is a knockout as it decides promotion, while we are in a quarter-final, which is also a knockout.
'This is where we want to be. We want to be up in Division 1 playing with the top sides. That's the players' goal and they are focused on that, so it should all make for a huge game of hurling, one to look forward to,' he added.
Nobody will doubt that Wexford hurling is now in a place where everyone, even those outside the county, want it to be.
The opportunity has now presented itself to take it to another level through promotion, and on home soil Wexford will be determined to achieve their goal before their own supporters.
The team will be announced at training on Wednesday evening.