Minors and Juniors aiming to advance
Eamonn Scallan believes Wexford can achieve a victory over Limerick should they play to their full potential.
Wexford travel to Semple Stadium, Thurles, on Sunday where they take on the Shannonsiders in the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor hurling championship quarter-final at 12 noon, confident of putting their Leinster final defeat to Dublin behind them.
Wexford, following that provincial final defeat, have recharged their batteries with two rounds of club championship games before returning to squad training for Sunday's encounter. Wexford have by now put the disappointment of that final defeat behind them and are looking forward to playing on the green sward of Semple Stadium.
Limerick are coming off the back of a heavy Munster final defeat to Tipperary when many believe the side totally under-performed. The single biggest thing to emerge from that game is that the Shannonsiders are a far better team than what was witnessed in this defeat, so one can expect a totally different challenge in this quarter-final clash.
Wexford are determined to take the next step and become serious contenders for the title, but manager Scallan realises the challenge facing his side.
'I saw Limerick play in the Munster final. They are a strong, physical team, similar to Dublin in loads of ways. They probably underperformed in the Munster final against Tipperary, of that I've no doubt, so we'll meet a vastly different side on this occasion, but we are up for the challenge,' he said.
'We have got back together since the Leinster final. The lads have had two rounds of club championship games, so that helped get the disappointment out of their system, as their appetite for hurling is back having returned to squad training.'
Scallan knows the side needs to give a performance to reflect their undoubted ability.
'Wexford need to perform. We underperformed in the Leinster final, yet seven minutes from the end we were leading, a point ahead. We got a performance out of the team up to that closing seven minutes.
'What we now expect is a performance for the 60 minutes. We have put the Leinster final day behind us, so the lads should have learned how to cope with the occasion.
'When we come up against Limerick we can expect a similar type game as experienced against Dublin. Wexford are capable of winning should they perform to their full abilities. If we can get that performance over the 60 minutes we can still have a real say in this championship,' he said.
'There are six teams left, there is nothing separating them, one is no better than the other, so it all comes down to what happens on the day.
'It will all come down to how we get the job done. There is no real difference between the two teams, but should our lads put in a performance I'm confident we can win,' he added.
Wexford will not select their side until later in the week.
Meanwhile, Wexford manager David Power hopes to go one better than last year when they play Mayo in Saturday's All-Ireland Junior football championship semi-final in Tullamore (2 p.m.).
Wexford will have three enforced changes from the side which defeated Louth in the provincial championship decider, but the only addition to the squad has been Kilanerin netminder, Tom Hughes.
However, missing from the side that overcame the Wee county will be netminder Philip Murphy, who was introduced late on for the Seniors in their qualifier defeat to Fermanagh, while Robbie Vallejo and Niall Hughes have opted out, choosing to take in the summer months playing football in Boston.
While the side has had a considerable wait since their provincial success, Mayo have also been lying in wait having won their provincial title back in late May, so it has made matters difficult for both sets of managers.
Last year Wexford lost out at the All-Ireland semi-final stage to Kerry but their opponents in Mayo will not make life any easier. They come from a traditional footballing stronghold, with their Seniors back in form, while their Minors are in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Given their strength at under-age level it all leads to formidable adult teams from the county.
Despite the break in fixtures, Power still has been busy preparing his side, having played a number of challenge games while also having had squad training sessions over the past two weeks.
'We have put in a lot of work over recent weeks to have the side ready. Really our goal is to go one better than last year and qualify for the All-Ireland final. We have had two challenge games along with squad training so we are pretty well prepared for the Mayo game,' Power said.
'This is a great chance to get into an All-Ireland final. It's going to be a huge challenge but there is a real hunger in this Wexford squad. There is also a belief, a belief that they can go one better than last year. Everything is going in the right direction so we are looking forward to the challenge.'
Power has named Kilanerin's Tom Hughes in the squad in what is the only addition. 'Tom has been brought in as goalkeeping cover so will battle it out with Conor Swaine for the netminding position,' he said.
Wexford will select their side on Thursday evening and have no injury concerns as they continue their preparations.