Saturday 25 November 2017

Very familiar foes

Championship Special: Banty all set to face native Monaghan

Brendan Furlong

Wexford manager Seamus McEnaney is primed to face his native county Monaghan on Saturday
Wexford manager Seamus McEnaney is primed to face his native county Monaghan on Saturday

Wexford manager Seamus McEnaney fully expects his native Monaghan to have done their homework on Wexford in preparation for their All-Ireland phase two Senior football qualifier when the sides meet at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday at 3 p.m.

McEnaney did not expect this clash so early in his managerial career with Wexford, but when the draw was made the two sides emerged from the drum. And it gives this clash a whole new perspective and is sure to enthral the crowd, especially the visiting supporters in particular, but the Monaghan native also has his admirers down south.

Having managed his native county to new highs in recent times, following up with a spell in charge of Meath, McEneany is now based down in Wexford where, along with his coach, Martin McElennon, they have specialised in bringing something extra to the Wexford game.

And after helping them secure promotion from Division 4 at the first time of asking, now an even more serious test awaits the duo.

No doubt hugely disappointed at having lost out to Carlow in their opening round championship game, Wexford bounced right back to winning ways following four successive defeats, with a hard-earned but impressive qualifier victory on the road to Limerick. That win that has helped give the squad a real lift as they look forward to what is an immense challenge against Division 1 opponents.

Throw into the pot that Wexford are facing a side whose ultimate goal at the start of the season was an Ulster title and an All-Ireland quarter-final spot. They surprisingly came unstuck against Down who recorded a shock victory, but it's this defeat which has now dumped the Monaghan outfit into the scenic route to make the All-Ireland quarter-finals, albeit without another provincial title.

But one would have to accept they will be all the more determined despite the fact that their qualifier record is no more healthy than the home side.

With Wexford hoping to kick on their championship campaign it looks likely that they will have to do so without midfielder Colm Kehoe.

'Colm is coming along nicely. He did the hamstring against Carlow, missed out against Limerick, but it appears this game could a week too early for him,' McEnaney said.

Wexford continued their preparations on Saturday morning with an in-house game, and star attacker Ciarán Lyng was forced to sit out the session.

'I've an infected toe but I'll be fit for the game,' Lyng said as he hobbled about the sideline.

Given the strength of the opposition, McEnaney is thrilled to be playing football in July, particularly after getting a result against Limerick.

'We were delighted to get the result against Limerick, a very tight game. The qualifiers is all about winning, getting back on the roller-coaster, getting back on the horse. I was delighted for the lads, the way we played, the way we executed the game was brilliant as far as I was concerned. We got the result which was all it was about.

'Look, at one stage we went two points up, 0-9 to 0-7, could and should have pushed on. Yes, there were disappointing parts, with certain aspects of our game, but at the end of the day it's all about winning, getting back confidence and moving on.

'Considering the history of the qualifiers then it was brilliant to get the win. This meant so much to the team.'

Following the defeat to Carlow, McEnaney felt the players bought into the preparations for Limerick.

'The lads have bought into the set-up, they bought into the way we got ready for Limerick. But now this is a different ball game. This is a Division 1 team against a Division 4 team so we will need everything spot on to succeed, to get a result.

'There is no doubt Monaghan will be determined to bounce back. They will see this as the best possible draw against a Division 4 team. It's a very difficult challenge for us but we have prepared well for it.

'Monaghan have the finishing power, of that I've no doubt. I actually think this year's Monaghan panel is the best I've seen since the eighties. Now they have more than Conor McManus up front.

'They have Owen Duffy and Jack McCarron. I know a lot about Monaghan players, but I've not set myself up until the last two weeks for Monaghan. I did not expect this but we will be ready.

'I know this Monaghan team as a group of players. Look, we are delighted to be playing football in July. We got promotion and are playing football in July. We would have grabbed that with both hands at the start of the year.

'For us it's one game at a time, although Monaghan will be focused, as they feel they should be in an All-Ireland quarter-final. But I've a duty to Wexford and I'll be giving everything to get a result.'

McEnaney said Monaghan will bring huge support so he is appealing to Wexford people to come out and back the team.

'Monaghan will bring eight to ten thousand supporters, so I ask the Wexford support to come out. Look, Wexford supporters will see a maximum effort. They will get a huge effort from this group of players.

'This is a big challenge but this is a great group of players who will give it everything. Wexford supporters can be guaranteed of that especially on home soil. Monaghan would have liked this on home soil in Clones. While this is a Division 1 side against a Division 4 side, they will be still giving Wexford every respect.

'We have no injury concerns. While Colm Kehoe is on his way back, this may be a week too early, possibly, but we'll wait and see. Other than Colm we have no fresh injury concerns. We'll have an in-house game today and we'll take it from there,' he added.

Wexford will not announce their side until Thursday evening. That game has a 3 p.m. start.

Wexford People

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