Hurlers head Leeside
Chance for redemption after promotion hopes blown
Wexford Senior hurlers will be feeling the heat when they travel to Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday for their Allianz League quarter-final clash with Cork (4 p.m.).
When the squad gather for training this week they will feel that this is a huge game ahead of them, particularly following their disappointing loss to Waterford on home soil which put paid to the chance of promotion to the top flight.
The expectation levels were set high for last Sunday but supporters left the county ground disappointed, not so much with the defeat, but the poor performance of the side.
There's a mindset that Wexford are not always comfortable with a favourite's tag, as there was a widely-held belief within the county that they were ready to repeat last year's championship victory over our neighbours.
Manager Liam Dunne expressed disappointment with the performance rather than the result. 'We will have to take it on the chin, re-group and get our game together for Cork.
'It's hard to say but they (Waterford) wanted it much more than us, that's difficult to accept given that so much rode on the result,' he said.
'They showed that in winning practically every ruck ball. They continually came out with the ball once it broke on the ground, while they were also always available to pick up the breaking ball once our half-backs batted it down.
'I've said all along that when we're ready to go up, we'll go up and quite clearly we are not ready to go up.
'We had two chances of goals. Perhaps if Kevin Foley's early second-half effort had gone in instead of wide it would have given the crowd a real reason to get behind us. But we did nothing to lift the crowd.'
Despite this latest disappointment, Dunne is now looking ahead to Cork.
'While we hadn't the best ending to our group games, this is an opportunity for the players to bounce back.
'They must now show leadership on the pitch. The players will be flat following this disappointment but they must now re-group and meet the Cork challenge.'
Wexford's only injury concern is attacker Paul Morris who missed the Waterford game with a knee ligament problem, but Jack Guiney, who was carrying a groin complaint, came through the second-half unscathed.
It's also hoped that Tomás Waters' hamstring problem will have cleared to increase the options available in the defence.
Cork have their own injury problems, with hamstring injuries received in the loss to Tipperary likely to rule out Mark Ellis, Alan Cadogan and Daniel Kearney.
The league has now reached make or break but hopefully Wexford can deliver something special.
On the football front, the Seniors are in a relegation dogfight with promotion-chasing Fermanagh at Wexford Park on Sunday (1 p.m.).
With relegation now almost a certainty, Wexford will have to set their sights on the championship, and perhaps some restoration of pride.