D-day for footballers
Big performance required to defeat the Wee county
Paul McLoughlin feels that Wexford will have to deliver a near perfect performance to see off Louth when the sides meet in the opening round of the Leinster Senior football championship at Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday (3 p.m.).
Louth may have a psychological edge, having enjoyed an impressive league campaign, just missing out on promotion from Division 3 by one point.
Wexford's displays, in contrast, were haunted by an inconsistency that saw them unable to mount a promotion challenge from Division 4.
It seemed the players had felt the pressure from their opening game defeat to Leitrim, with losses following to London and Waterford.
Still, the London defeat could be put somewhat into perspective now as Ciarán Deely's side ran a highly-rated Galway outfit to just four points in their Connacht championship opener in Ruislip on Sunday.
It's going to take a huge effort from this young Wexford side to see off Louth. McLoughlin, in just his second year in charge, has had to rebuild a side from the foundation up, which partially tells the story of Wexford football, but now he is confident that his team can produce a big game against the Wee county.
'There has been a very positive approach to training over the past two weeks. We were blessed in that we had no players returning from four weeks of club championship with injuries, so we will be able to pick from a full squad. Mark O'Neill has a slight hamstring problem but should be available,' he said.
'While we would have liked more time for preparation, everything went well, and we are quite happy.
'The lads have settled in well with Colin Kelly and he has brought that something extra to the set-up. It is proving a huge plus,' he added.
While Kelly has already made an impact on the Wexford set-up, he will be in strange territory come Sunday afternoon as he tries to plot the downfall of his native county for whom he has played and managed.
There has been no lack of preparation, according to McLoughlin.
'I'm delighted with the training and response of the players. There's great spirit in the camp but we still know that we have got to deliver. I'm confident of a big performance from the lads.
'We have a talented bunch of players with a mix of experience and youth. There is not much between the sides and while Louth impressed in the league, the championship is totally different.
'One can expect a totally different game from the sides but we are ready for the challenge,' McLoughlin added.
The heat will be on both sides come Sunday afternoon, but the venue should mean something to Wexford.
'Home advantage is a great plus, but we will need to utilise it, so let's hope we get a crowd behind us. This is a young side, a side deserving of support,' McLoughlin said.
Wexford will not announce their side until later in the week, but Michael Furlong will captain the side from a defence that is also likely to include Brian Malone, Glen Malone, Martin O'Connor and Gavin Sheehan, while a fit Mark O'Neill should also be pushing for inclusion.
Midfield will prove crucial but Wexford have a potentially dominant partnership in Daithí Waters and Niall Hughes.
The attack will not be easy to tie down, but should include Jonathan Bealin, Barry O'Connor, Eoghan Nolan and John Tubritt, with Conor Devitt also pushing for a starting berth, having impressed in the league.
Louth will fancy their chances given their league form, but Wexford are more than capable of bringing off a victory, setting up a home game with five-in-a-row seeking Dublin two weeks later.
And win, lose or draw, a further meeting of football supporters will take place in the Riverside Park Hotel in Enniscorthy on Monday, May 13, with a 7.30 p.m. start.
The meeting will further discuss the problems that have beset Wexford football and will detail proposals the organisers feel is necessary to restore confidence in the game in the county. All are welcome to attend.