Wednesday 13 December 2017

French avails of chance

Brendan Furlong

Tony French is congratulated by his grandmother Katie Crean, after his performance against Antrim
Tony French is congratulated by his grandmother Katie Crean, after his performance against Antrim

It's hard to believe that you must go back to 1965 for the last time that Wexford lifted the Cross of Cashel trophy. Kilmore's Willie O'Neill was the man who climbed the steps to collect the silverware all those years ago.

Tony French is hoping that they can do something similar on Saturday evening as the Model county face Limerick in this year's Under-21 hurling final.

After being on the fringesof the team, fortunes changed for Tony when he was called into the starting 15 in the days leading up to the semi-final with Antrim, going on to give a man of the match display as he contributed three points in a very impressive display.

'Perhaps it was fortunate for me but unfortunate for Gavin (Bailey). Gavin injured a knee in a club game which forced him to miss the game, a terrible blow for him having put in months of preparation. I was given my chance so I was determined to grasp it. Now hopefully I can contribute in the final,' he said.

The Adamstown clubman revealed 'the spirit is brilliant. After the Antrim game we went back to our clubs but we are now working hard in training and the spirit is what Wexford hurling is based on. There is a massive belief in the camp right now and we are confident of giving a huge performance.

'We may have been questioned after the Antrim victory but it was difficult given that they packed their defence with two extra players for the entire 60 minutes. It may have taken us the first-half to sort it out but it all changed in the second-half. We know improvement is needed but we are working really hard.

'The belief is there now and the squad is there. There are more than 30 players at present who are willing to put their shoulders to the wheel. That's what you need, as it's creating competition for places.

'The competition for places is intense and the spirit is really high. Everyone is now looking forward to the final as it's a huge occasion for everyone involved.

'We are aware of the potential of this Limerick side and know all about them. We have seen them and studied them, as they have taken big scalps in Munster and then Galway, but we came out of Leinster beating Kilkenny in the final, so we will be sticking to our gameplan.

'In the Leinster final against Kilkenny we brought a real tempo to our game. While we cannot control what Limerick will bring to the game, the only control we have is to bring our own game, our own plan, stick to the plan, and take the game to Limerick.

'In the Leinster final we had 1-2 scored against us before we knew where we were. Against Antrim we took the first-half to settle into the game, but if we do that against Limerick we will be cleaned out. We just have to hit the ground running and lay down our own marker from the outset.'

Wexford People

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