Tuesday 21 January 2020

Dee: 'we'll be ready'

Players keen to deliver for supporters

Dynamic wing-back Diarmuid O'Keeffe cannot wait for the challenge that Kilkenny will pose in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday
Dynamic wing-back Diarmuid O'Keeffe cannot wait for the challenge that Kilkenny will pose in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday

Brendan Furlong

Wexford did an amazing job when they defeated Kilkenny in the league quarter-final, but Diarmuid O'Keeffe is convinced this will be a different ball game.

While the St. Anne's clubman is aiming high with the Model county, he believes that Wexford will need to bring their game to another level to see off the reigning provincial champions.

Still, he is convinced they can achieve this which would set them up for a real victory effort.

'It's a strange situation. When Davy took over he brought a plan, which we all had to fit into, a plan that so far has proved successful,' he said.

'We were firstly looking at the league, then those two victories over Limerick and Galway, which helped reform Wexford hurling. We had been in the second tier of the league, then achieved promotion, before going on to the knockout stages.

'You can understand the momentum was building, the support base was building, the expectations were building, so it was a question of continuing to drain the tank,' he added.

When it was put to him that Kilkenny were the pundits' favourites going into that league quarter-final with Wexford rank outsiders with the bookies, he honestly didn't realise that.

'I wasn't aware of that stat at all. Before the match all the national media were predicting a Kilkenny victory, no one was expecting us to win, but I suppose we had it ourselves in the group. It's one win but we're not going to be just happy with that.

'I know the championship is different, Kilkenny will come to Innovate Wexford Park with all guns blazing. It will be an unreal experience but one we will be ready for.

'This will be a formidable challenge for us. We are under no illusions, as the Kilkenny team of old is still there. Kilkenny never go away. They may be team building to some extent but given their record they are always a formidable force.

'They have Michael Fennelly and Ger Aylward back, two huge players. Fennelly is a formidable figure wherever he plays, while Aylward is lethal in front of goal.

'They will bring so much extra to the Kilkenny challenge. They have put in savage training since the league defeat, but so have Wexford, we will be ready for whatever is thrown at us.'

Since Wexford's league run the whole county has risen, getting fully behind Davy Fitzgerald's team.

'Yes, there is a real feel-good factor now about Wexford hurling, but we still need to deliver a big championship victory for the supporters. But like I said, Kilkenny never go away, so we will need to bring our 'A' game to achieve a result.

'We have to deal with the expectation but this has all been gone through in training. Obviously Kilkenny play a different style to us so in training we have been focusing on our own game and how to get past them.

'There's no doubt they will present a different challenge on this occasion. We are not thinking so much of there being a backlash as we know it's going to be hard anyway,' Diarmuid added.

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