Wednesday 23 January 2019

Ready for acid test

Hurlers to host Galway in Wexford Park cauldron

Full-back Liam Ryan strides out of defence during the one-sided win against Offaly in Tullamore on Saturday. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Full-back Liam Ryan strides out of defence during the one-sided win against Offaly in Tullamore on Saturday. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Brendan Furlong

When reigning Leinster and All-Ireland champions, Galway, visit Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday (5pm) for game three in the round robin Leinster series, Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald will be seeking further improvement from his side.

Following their demolition job on Offaly in Bord na Móna O'Connor Park, Tullamore, on Saturday evening, all eyes are now focused on Fitzgerald's charges to see if they can record a third victory over the reigning champions, with the only blip in their last three meetings being that Leinster final defeat.

Despite the dominant performance against Offaly, Fitzgerald is still looking for improvement from his side ahead of the Galway challenge, along with their meeting with Kilkenny in Nowlan Park seven days later.

'We still had 19 wides, we missed a penalty. There are certain things we can improve on. But it's good to win,' he said.

'We needed to win, because we want to qualify for the latter stages no matter what. We had to come out and give it one hundred per cent today. We did that.

'We have two massive games left against Galway and Kilkenny. They will be tough. The thing we were worried about is we have to play four weeks in a row.

'You have to get up for week one, two, three and four in a row, and three tough ones. To get up week after week, we're very worried about the third and fourth weeks. A small break in the middle of it would be just nice.

'I thought we died on our feet in the last ten to 15 minutes. We will take a good break during the week now and look forward to Galway,' he added.

Fitzgerald was delighted to give Liam Og McGovern his first introduction to inter-county hurling in two years as he continues to fight his way back to full fitness following two cruciate knee ligament operations in the space of twelve months.

'It was great to give Liam some game time. He has put in an immense effort after two serious knee cruciate operations.

'He is now ready to go and will be a huge plus to the squad,' Fitzgerald said.

Following the Offaly game, Fitzgerald has no fresh injury concerns and will be selecting from a full squad to take on a Galway side which really blossomed in the closing quarter victory over Kilkenny on Sunday, picking off a succession of excellent points.

On the 5-24 to 2-9 demolition of Offaly, Fitzgerald said: 'I think it was down to our start. We just decided we needed to start at an unreal pace.

'We got a break or two at the start and I'd say it set Offaly back a small bit.

'I've been looking at Offaly most of the year and I think they have made good progress, but I think our start helped us and we were comfortable after that.'

Wexford must now step up to another level as it's patently clear that Galway have got themselves into a position to deliver a powerful defence of their Leinster and All-Ireland titles, particularly given the manner in which they dismantled the Kilkenny challenge, being the dominant side for most of the 70 minutes.

Wexford, with both Conor McDonald and Lee Chin showing much improved form, along with Paul Morris offering more impetus in his play, are likely to go with the same starting 15.

The big question this week is can Wexford make it three victories over the Tribesmen under Davy Fitzgerald's reign, or can Galway level the series?

Wexford People

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