O'Connor injury a big worry
SHC final preview: Codd hoping star forward will be fit
While the rest of the county were getting excited about the prospects of an entertaining, open county championship after St. Martin's impressive win against Oulart-The Ballagh, way back in May, it was greeted with more of a sense of relief in Piercestown and Murrintown.
Early season form rarely, if ever, correlates with what's going on at the business end of the championship, but St. Martin's had that first game ringed in red sharpie. Realistically, it was to prove something to themselves as much as anyone else.
'It was a huge night up in Bellefield that first night because we had put a lot of work into that game,' admitted St. Martin's boss Tomás Codd. 'I probably get the feeling that Oulart didn't put a lot of work into that game, their season had ran on a lot longer than everybody else's.
'They were involved in the Leinster Club championship and probably didn't start training in earnest until after that game, so perhaps, if we hadn't managed to beat them that night it would have been disappointing given the effort we put into it.'
Arguably St. Martin's haven't produced as good a performance again this season. Codd admitted to 'very erratic' form heading into the quarter-finals and conceded that his side were 'probably lucky to come through that one, on the balance of play maybe the Alley deserved to beat us'.
Naomh Eanna provided another challenge in the last four and the game was again in the melting pot heading into the final quarter.
'In fairness, Rory O'Connor scored a couple of great goals again to put a bit of distance and we won by six or seven in the end but it was probably a closer game than the scoreline reflected,' Codd said.
O'Connor has been the star of the hurling summer in Wexford and he's clearly someone every neutral is looking forward to watching on Sunday. After sitting out the football semi-final replay with a knee injury, his participation in the small ball decider is in real doubt too.
'We have been lucky enough until now with injuries, we haven't picked up many,' Codd said, before addressing O'Connor's issue. 'He needs to get an MRI the first of the week and we are obviously very worried as he's our marquee player.'
As hard as such personnel losses are, it seems nearly inevitable that the sheer run of games clubs like St. Martin's have to navigate will eventually tell on players' well-being. 'It's difficult, very difficult, I would say, for the players, because we have been going every week now for probably ten or twelve games, maybe more even,' Codd said.
'Also there was an Under-21 hurling championship run off in between, so our Under-21s are heading on for about 20 games in twelve weeks, which is very difficult.
'The amount of training we do at the moment is virtually nil. Generally it takes the whole week to recover, particularly from a football match to be ready for hurling the next week.'
His side will need to dig deep to call on all their reserves when they face Oulart-The Ballagh on Sunday. It's a side the St. Martin's manager knows only too well. 'Their team has the who's who of Wexford hurling really,' Codd said.
'Des Mythen scored five from play in the semi-final, Rory Jacob got a couple and set up lots more, Nicky Kirwan got his usual goal and a few points, day in day out that's what they do.
'Probably their go-to man when the chips are down is Garrett Sinnott, he's a top, top class player. He's generally involved in most of the big plays at the big moments. When they need big moments, he's the one for them.'