independent

Sunday 15 September 2019

TO ADVANCE

Liam Dunne is now providing this and with the mix of experience and youth he will be seeking out a victory this Saturday evening as anything else would be looked upon as a serious setback to the management team's plans for the future.

You can't over estimate how important this game is. It's a huge test on home soil but Dunne is instilling a self-confidence in the players which hopefully will be evident as they endeavour to overcome this latest challenge.

'We are under no illusions as to where we are but since the Offaly game we have prepared very well. Against Offaly we dominated the opening 20 minutes along with the closing 18 minutes.

'It was in between that we lost our way. I have studied this and the players realise that for championship hurling it's consistency over the 70 minutes that is needed,' Dunne said.

However, Dunne is quite pleased with the positive response he has received from the players.

'If one had seen the dressing-room after Offaly one would have realised how that defeat hurt the players. But they came back together the following morning, re-grouped, and they have taken it on since then.

'I am very pleased with the attitude of the players. We had a challenge last Friday night, defeating Antrim. Now it's about focusing on Westmeath. There is not a hint of complacency in the camp.

'But it shows the pedigree of these players as everyone has responded. Now we are ready to face the Westmeath challenge which is a difficult one in itself.

'We are under no illusions that we face a challenge. We are not under-estimating Westmeath hurling. I know where I'm coming from as I had experience of their champions with my own club, Oulart-The Ballagh, a few years back. We were lucky to come out with a few points to spare. So there is not a hint of under-estimating what lies ahead this Saturday evening.'

Westmeath have made major strides under manager Brian Hanley, the former Athenry and Galway hurler who has transformed their approach to the game.

While their preliminary round win over Antrim in the Leinster championship was greeted with mild surprise around the country, it was no more than this ambitious group expected as they had been gearing up for the challenge for quite some time.

When the draw was made Dunne took it as it came but added caution. Limerick will meet Laois in the other game on Saturday evening next, with the winners set to take on Antrim who are trying to get their campaign on track and who ran Wexford close in that challenge game in the St. Maur's club ground in Rush, north county Dublin, on Friday evening last.

'While we were delighted with the draw, it's also been said that Wesmeath were equally delighted. So that sums up their confidence. Over the next few days we'll be focusing on the game. Hopefully we'll have enough to get us through but it will be by no means easy.'

Now is an opportunity for Wexford hurlers to show home supporters the journey they are embarking upon.

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