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Saturday 25 November 2017

No excuses this time but the team has more to offer

Championship Special

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

There's no excuses - but Wexford will bounce back. We'll keep going and will meet the All-Ireland quarter-final head on, irrespective of who our opponents are.

It's most satisfying and even tear jerking to have seen Wexford back in a Leinster final, to see the purple and gold once again parade around Croke Park.

At times it was exciting but given our lengthy absence this was the most satisfying experience imaginable.

To see joint captains Matthew O'Hanlon and Lee Chin lead a brave Wexford team who have come such a distance in the short space of six months in the pre-match parade was uplifting.

They were leading not just a team, but a squad of players who have achieved so much this year, a squad that has brought joy to Model county supporters who made up the bulk of the record 60,032 crowd for a provincial final.

They set an example for others to follow. As they moulded Wexford G.A.A. together it should serve as an example to the people we have leading the association in the county - boycotting the media from County Board meetings and issuing meaningless bulletins in its place, with the co-operation between local newspaper media and county officers having reached an all-time low.

It's much worse when dictatorship lifts its ugly head, with personal vendettas being brought to the forefront.

We should be thankful to Davy Fitzgerald and the Wexford hurlers, not to forget the achievements of Seamus McEnaney and his footballers, as well as Minor football manager John Nolan, who has overcome so many obstacles to reach a provincial semi-final. In addition, the Under-21 hurlers are back in a Leinster final along with the Intermediate hurlers.

This has all helped give the G.A.A. a real support base in the county. They have moulded the county, regardless of what's going on behind closed doors at the County Board meetings.

Davy Fitzgerald in an interview during the week spoke of being afraid of what might happen in the Leinster final, referring to Galway's experience of the big occasion.

He can still feel proud though of the effort of his charges, whose lack of experience saw them unable to punish the westerners when the opportunities arose - particularly in that five-minute opening to the second-half when there was a missed free and a penalty saved.

Instead of Wexford being ahead, they trailed by two points (0-14 to 0-12), but then Galway hit a twelve-minute purple patch, adding on a further seven points without reply.

It was game over but Wexford still rallied and fought to the bitter end, even pulling a Diarmuid O'Keeffe goal back. It was a huge learning curve for Wexford but now the big questions arise.

Can we bounce back for the All-Ireland quarter-final? They have come a long way, but these are lessons learned, hopefully to be built upon for the next game. Davy has the experience and professionalism to restore confidence in his squad and have them ready for another challenge, a huge one at that, but ready to deliver.

Wexford have a three-week break to rest their tiring limbs and then get ready for another challenge. This will be another step up in class irrespective of their opponent. Tipperary should join them in the quarter-final draw at the expense of Dublin, along with the winners of Kilkenny and Waterford.

Wexford will also have the beaten Munster finalists, out of the Cork versus Clare clash, joining them in their drum.

Two huge games are in prospect but joint captains Matthew O'Hanlon and Lee Chin can provide the leadership necessary to achieve. Let's hope others follow that leadership.

This is a big week for Wexford continuing on the championship roller-coaster.

This evening (Tuesday) Wexford host Louth in the provincial Minor football semi-final at Innovate Wexford Park, while 24 hours later the Model army take on Kilkenny in Nowlan Park in the provincial Under-21 hurling final.

Then it's back to Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday afternoon next for the Wexford versus Monaghan Senior football qualifier. Good luck too everyone.

Wexford People

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