Cloughbawn no pushovers
Will quest for 13th title prove unlucky for the holders?
Oulart-The Ballagh will no doubt start as outright favourites to win their 13th Senior hurling title on Sunday. But will number 13 be unlucky for some?
Cloughbawn bring an honesty and freshness to their hurling and certainly won't roll over without a fight.
They have some very strong hurlers in their ranks and their defenders led by Colm Kehoe are a strong unit.
The Oulart forwards will be as good as the ball received and the men in green's chances of victory will lie in their workrate up field to cut down Oulart's passing game and delivery to the inside men. In Jack Charlton's immortal words, P.J. Dempsey's men will need to 'put them under pressure', and in Barry Carton, Connal Flood and Harry Kehoe they have the ability to hurt any defence.
Alan Carton, who I feel is Cloughbawn's man for all seasons, will play a vital role and it wouldn't surprise me to see him positioned on Keith Rossiter for periods of the game despite his effectiveness at centre-forward.
Stopping Garrett Sinnott gaining possession and the off-load to Nicky and Dessie is a must, but I feel there is a more physical nature to the Cloughbawn men than maybe brought to the table by Ferns. I won't surprise many by tipping Oulart, but only after a ferocious first 45- or 50-minute challenge from the Clonroche men.
Davy Fitzgerald will be an interested spectator in Wexford Park and such is the profile and appeal of the Clare man that I would expect a few extra in attendance. I was surprised somewhat by his appointment but already he has created an interest and buzz around the county.
There is no doubting his success rate with an All-Ireland and National League secured with his native Clare (that would do us nicely), along with guiding an over the top Waterford team to a final, and I'm sure our Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux, will see the appointment as a major coup.
Davy will bring a huge tactical element to the Wexford game with sweeper systems being a norm, but like all Wexford supporters I wouldn't care if we put 15 in the goal if it brings success (I know we only need one in the goal, Mark).
In sport you are very often seen as a prophet in any land but your own, and this will help Davy in that both players and supporters will be a little wary of him (or anyone new), affording him a little settling in time.
People are a lot harder on their own as previous managements will testify.
We will need to be patient with his systems and give them time to work. At this stage all I can say is welcome Davy, to the best-supported hurling county in Ireland.
I believe we have huge potential so good luck and enjoy the strawberries. Up Wexford.
I will conclude this week by a few references to our sister game, camogie.
The Wexford Camogie Board can take a bow after their organisation and presentation of the county Senior final.
From the splendidly colourful programme to the clockwork-like running of the day, it was a credit to them, with the huge crowd present lending further confirmation to the popularity of the sport.
The game itself was hugely competitive with the young Martin's team dominating the exchanges for large parts of the first-half.
Every team needs to maximise their periods of supremacy however, and it was a huge setback to be a point down at half-time having done most of the running.
The old heads (just to clarify that they are not that old) saw the game out with Una Leacy's goal proving decisive midway through the first-half, and an impressive defence led by the brilliant Ciara Storey proving a match for anything the Martin's could throw at them.
The Martin's will be back and with a few tweaks here and there will be a team to watch going forward. Noeleen Lambert stormed it at centre-back (did she leave the inter-county scene too early?), and Katie O'Connor, the brilliant Linda Bolger and Mary Barrett all worked hard to ensure a difficult afternoon for the women in black and red.
Amy Cardiff (particularly when given freedom outside) made some strong runs and Mags D'Arcy again consolidated her status as the country's top 'keeper.