Saturday 16 December 2017

Davy has won the fans over already with this fine show

Brendna Furlong's Hop Ball

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

History has not been kind to Wexford in Division 1B, no more so than to Limerick which added to the ingredients as both sides set out to gain valuable ground in their respective efforts to reach the top flight.

The concern for both teams is that a lengthy absence from competing with the top counties could hinder the progress of their young players. This was evident from both sides as the game was played with real championship tempo and fervour through the 70 minutes.

Davy Fitzgerald in his first real competitive game asked questions of Wexford. First he got them believing in their own ability, and their ability to win close-fought games. Second he got them to buy into his gameplan.

Wexford put up the shutters when playing into the first-half elements, then changed their style for the second-half as they brought the game to Limerick, and we all know the eventual outcome.

The Wexford source of strength was their pillars down the centre. Mark Fanning in goal, Liam Ryan, Matthew O'Hanlon, Shaun Murphy, David Redmond and Lee Chin were colossal, as was Conor McDonald as he weaved through both wing and central positions.

Limerick were unable to manage that formidable centre, particularly through that crucial second-half spell when Wexford scored 1-6 without reply. This stopped Limerick's flow, messed up their challenge and crucially afforded the Model county boys time and space to create and execute scores.

Wexford's reaction to Limerick's threat down the centre was to close off space. This was achieved to such an extent that the Wexford central defence conceded just one point from play.

Wexford forced Limerick attackers into far from ideal scoring positions, which was in stark contrast to the opposite end where Conor McDonald not alone created space but finished clinically.

The concern for Davy and his backroom is that it is obviously becoming more and more difficult to decide on a starting 15, which is good for Wexford hurling, particularly given the number of injured players yet to return.

The value of the substitutes was evident, particularly with the introduction of Podge Doran and Harry Kehoe to the attack. Now contrast that with what was happening up to Doran's introduction. The Limerick full-back line were constantly clearing their lines, but big Podge got in around them, made his presence felt physically and picked off two splendid points, his first the leveller with twelve minutes remaining.

Minutes later he broke Mark Fanning's high delivery for McDonald to find the net. His instruction must have been to get in there and shake it up.

It must have been frustrating for the Limerick full-back line as they went from one extreme to the other. I was delighted for the Oylegate-Glenbrien clubman who has been such a loyal servant of Wexford hurling. It's not easy to make one's presence felt at this level of hurling, but his contribution gave huge value in that second-half victory surge.

They have Galway in their sights in Salthill next Sunday, another searching test. Wexford followers have always kept the faith. No doubt they will have a strong presence in the western venue to encourage their young side to further success.

Wexford's former Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux, must have sat back and smiled with the two league results from Sunday, as the footballers also won in Leitrim.

He was instrumental in attracting both managers, Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney for the footballers and the well-travelled Davy Fitzgerald, to the county. He can relax after giving supporters something to smile about, and his contribution won't be forgotten. Let's hope it continues.

Unfortunately, off the field the same professionalism is just not matching up. One is referring to the match day programmes so far which are of such poor standard that one would seriously question the input of the people responsible for P.R.

Just black and white, the cover, which failed to contain even the year of the competition, is both flat and dull, while the inside content is non-existent.

Certainly, it wasn't a collector's item even at €2 for what is basically a glorified teamsheet. Even the page list of Wexford G.A.A. sponsors has been confined to the scrap heap.

Wexford People

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