independent

Sunday 21 October 2018

June is the big one

Davy says only one game matters

Davy Fitzgerald as animated as ever on the sideline in Nowlan Park on Sunday
Davy Fitzgerald as animated as ever on the sideline in Nowlan Park on Sunday

Brendan Furlong

Wexford will not have much time to reflect on the Kilkenny defeat, as next Sunday they welcome reigning Allianz League and All-Ireland champions, Galway, to Innovate Wexford Park for their quarter-final clash.

Wexford will aim to put that Kilkenny setback behind them, but they could not have asked for a bigger call than having to take on the double titleholders, and in the process trying to avenge last July's provincial final defeat at the hands of the westerners.

Reflecting on the Kilkenny game, Fitzgerald said 'there's only one game that matters for me this year, and that is in June, the championship meeting between the two sides.

'Kilkenny needed the result, and in fairness, I thought they were just about the better team on the day. But we were flat out, that's as good as we can go, so no excuses whatsoever.

'Today will be one hundred miles away from what will be here in June. For me, the most important thing is that Wexford are competitive.

'No matter what happens, we have to stay there or thereabouts. And I think we will. We won't be afraid coming down here, we'll look forward to the challenge.

'To me, it's actually too long to wait for. I'd rather it was coming quicker, and we could tear into it.'

Speaking about the prospect of meeting Galway, Fitzgerald added: 'I'm delighted we're playing them. I think they're starting to pick up. I think they are starting to come back. I wish we met them a few weeks ago when they weren't as good.'

Walter Walsh's point in the fourth minute of injury time had more far-reaching consequences than the insurance score it merely appeared to be.

In the context of the game, it eased the pressure on Kilkenny and ended a 16-minute scoring drought during which Wexford whittled their six-point advantage down to two thanks to successive scores from Rory O'Connor.

In the context of the league, it means that Kilkenny will have a quarter-final against Offaly rather than All-Ireland champions, Galway. The three-point victory allowed Kilkenny to leapfrog Wexford into second place in the Division 1A table by virtue of the head-to-head result, whereas a two-point win would have left them in third and dictated a different last eight pairing.

So it's little wonder that Wexford boss Fitzgerald decried referee James McGrath's failure to award his side two frees near the end which, if converted, would have kept Micheál Donoghue's charges off the radar for the time being at least.

'That's what I'm saying, that's when frees kill you,' Fitzgerald said. 'Like, if we had one more point we'd have a different draw. We've Galway next weekend, and you know what, fair play, we have them down in Wexford Park. They have two trips down to us this year, so it will be interesting for them.'

Now Wexford will focus on their walking wounded ahead of the Galway game, but Fitzgerald is confident of having his best available squad.

Injured players like Lee Chin, Simon Donohoe and David Dunne will all be available, while there is also a real chance that Jack Guiney will play some part in the game. However, Eoin Moore and Shane Tomkins are still out of contention through injury.

Meanwhile, the Wexford footballers make the long trek to Derry on Sunday, in a bid to earn their first points of the campaign.

They were bitterly disappointing in their defeat to Offaly, leading manager Paul McLoughlin to remark: 'We are not learning from each game, which is disappointing. We were simply not good enough today, we're not good enough.'

When asked if it was the side's lack of experience which is hindering progress, McLoughlin was adamant:

'I'm not going to continue to make excuses. We're simply not good enough, not learning from each game, to make the progress. We just have to bring our game to another level.

'Discipline is also an issue. We've spoken about discipline but we've had a player red carded in four of our five games. That in itself is bringing huge pressure and making it far more difficult.

'We've two huge games ahead, Derry next weekend, and then Armagh at home. We could not have asked for a more difficult finish.'

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