Cork up next in Thurles
Hurlers to meet Leesiders for second year on the trot
Wexford have learned their fate in phase two of the All-Ireland Senior hurling championship qualifiers with a game against Cork in Semple Stadium, Thurles, on Saturday at 5 p.m.
It will be the second of a three-game contest also featuring Cork and Limerick in football at 3 p.m., and Clare and Limerick in hurling at 7 p.m. The Wexford match will be televised live on Sky.
It was always going to be an interesting draw with Clare and Limerick in the same pot, so no matter what the pairings to emerge, one was guaranteed to have two intriguing round two games this Saturday evening.
As Wexford reflect on their draw with Cork they will also suddenly realise they are just 70 minutes away from an All-Ireland quarter-final.
Wexford's pride won out against Offaly, and now they must take their game to another level to avenge last year's qualifier defeat to the Rebel county in Innovate Wexford Park.
HWH-Bunclody clubman Aidan Nolan is still out of contention with an ongoing knee problem, while substitute Jack Kelly has also been ruled out with a broken toe.
Incidentally, the ruling on having team selections in Croke Park by Thursday morning came back to haunt Wexford, not for the first time. Manager Liam Dunne named Kelly in the substitutes on the team supplied to Croke Park on Wednesday night, to meet the 9 a.m. Thursday deadline.
Later on Thursday evening, Kelly had an x-ray on a toe injury received in the Intermediate semi-final victory over Galway. It revealed a broken toe which ruled him out of the game, but under rule he could not be replaced on the substitutes' bench.
Dunne, who is working off the same squad of players, is now looking forward to the Cork challenge.
'We just have to bring our 'A' game, focus on our own game, and bring the challenge to Cork. All three teams wanted to draw Wexford. Now Cork have us so it's up to us prove a point,' he said.
'Cork have four forwards, if given space, who can punish us, Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harney, Conor Lehane and Alan Cadogan, but we have forwards who can punish them.
'This is a game that's not going to be won by any one individual battle, it's a game that's going to be won all over the field. It's a good draw, it's going to be an interesting game. If we're not disciplined Patrick Horgan will punish us.
'Last year when the teams met, Cork blitzed us in the first 15 minutes, but we held them to just five points in the second-half. This time we will just have to get out of the blocks from the very start, match Cork in each line, and take our challenge on from there,' he added.
'This is a game we feel that we can win, but Cork will feel the same, so it should make for a huge 70 minutes.
'We will have none of our injured players back. Liam Ryan gets the cast off his thumb this Friday, but he will also have a pin removed, so the game comes too quickly for him.
'This is a great opportunity for our players to match up to the higher level. The experience these lads are getting, given the extent of our injuries, down the road it should stand to them, and make for a stronger squad. We need everyone to step up here, end of story.'
On the Intermediate hurling front, Dunne has added Eoin Doyle (Shelmaliers) and Patrick O'Connor (St. Martin's) to the squad for the provincial final against Kilkenny on Wednesday, July 13, in Innovate Wexford Park.
On the Minor scene, Wexford will play the defeated Munster finalists, Limerick or Tipperary, in the All-Ireland quarter-final. This is scheduled for the week ending July 23/24, the same weekend as the Wexford versus Mayo All-Ireland Junior football championship semi-final.
Also scheduled for Sunday, July 24, are the All-Ireland Senior hurling championship quarter-finals.