Saturday 25 January 2020

The long wait is over

O’Hanlon says players were driven by 13 years of hurt

Paul Morris (15) works his way through the throngs of Wexford supporters after Saturday's sensational championship victory
Paul Morris (15) works his way through the throngs of Wexford supporters after Saturday's sensational championship victory

Brendan Furlong

The Wexford hurlers were driven on by 13 years of hurt, according to joint captain Matthew O'Hanlon in the aftermath of his side's dramatic Leinster Senior semi-final victory over Kilkenny at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.

The St. James' stalwart was bemused by the pre-match analysis suggesting Kilkenny would be more fired up for the match because they had been beaten in the league quarter-final in Nowlan Park.

'You've seen the papers over the last couple of weeks that Kilkenny would be hurting from the league quarter-final. But how many times have we been on the opposite end of the stick,' he said

'The last 10-15 years we've got some tremendous trimmings from them but we knew that we still owed them, and still do.

'But we haven't won anything yet, we're going up to a Leinster final in Croke Park and it's where we want to be. Games like these in front of 20,000 people are where we want to be and they're going to bring the best out of us.

'We want Wexford people behind us. Hopefully we can drive it on now,' added the staunch defender.

With manager Davy Fitzgerald unable to comment given his ban, a spokesman for the selectors was glowing in his praise of the squad effort.

'Their commitment, courage, determination and hurling throughout the 70 minutes was unbelievable. We got off to a dreadful start but the manner in which they responded speaks volumes for this group of players.

'They showed unbelievable character. They stuck to the gameplan. We changed our gameplan five times and no one noticed.

'When Kilkenny got the two goals, other teams would have wilted, but not this Wexford team, they were simply unbelievable, showed unbelievable character and hurling skills.

'Mark Fanning returning to goal made some crucial saves, while there's not many mentioning that James Breen held All Star T.J. Reid scoreless from play for the second successive game. The contribution of those two players was so crucial.

'Breen's tenacity in his man marking once again proved too much for Reid. Not many defenders can boast of this record.

'Others contributed so much like Liam Ryan, fantastic at full-back, Diarmuid O'Keeffe in his best-ever game, Matthew O'Hanlon who was inspirational through the closing 20 minutes, Simon Donohoe both as a defender and attacking back, Lee Chin who was magnificent in midfield, and Jack Guiney whose workrate and contribution was massive.

'This was a massive team effort. It has been a fabulous year for Wexford hurling. God only knows where this is going to bring us. But we have a Leinster final to look forward to. It's massive, massive for Wexford, as it puts everyone in good form.'

Meanwhile, on the football front Wexford have been drawn away to Limerick on Saturday, June 24, in their opening round qualifier game, with throw-in at the Gaelic Grounds at 3 p.m.

With all of the focus on hurling in the county, their preparations will take place under the radar.

Wexford People

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