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Five Major Talking Points Following Wexford’s Loss To Galway In Salthill

Wexford took on Galway in the opening round of the Leinster Hurling Championship yesterday in Salthill…

Galway, who were at home, were victorious on a score-line of 0-24 to 2-12.

Here, we look at the major talking points following Wexford’s loss.

Two early blows:

Wexford were dealt two early blows before throw-in. Although they were named to start the game, the Wexford duo of Lee Chin and Damien Reck did not feature due to injuries. Lee Chin has recovered from his hamstring injury, but he is now carrying a shoulder injury which forced him out of yesterday’s game. Oylegate’s Damien Reck was named at centre-back, but he picked up a hamstring injury during the warm-up in Salthill. Both Charlie McGuckin and Conor Foley stepped in to replace them.

It meant that Wexford lost their captain and their vice captain before a ball was even thrown in. Interestingly though, when Wexford were three points up on the 32nd minute mark before half time, Wexford manager Darragh Egan called down both Lee Chin and Jack O’Connor to warm up. It looked like the Faythe Harriers man would be coming on at half-time, but he did not feature in the game whatsoever. Perhaps, after doing his warm up as a substitute on the side-line, he realised that he was not in a position to come on.

Quick goals:

Galway’s TJ Brennan opened the scoring in the game, but Wexford’s response could not have been better. Naomh Eanna’s Conor McDonald batted a ball to the Galway net directly after, and less than two minutes after, Rory O’Connor threw the ball out to the onrushing Liam Óg McGovern who buried a low ball passed the Galway goalkeeper. It was a dream start for Wexford, a glimmer of hope for Wexford hurling fans, but they failed to maintain their lead. Galway racked up three quick-fire points in the last three minutes of the first-half, and the teams went in level at half-time.

Penalty miss:

In the first quarter of the second-half, Galway came out all guns blazing. Despite going in at the break level, Galway were up by 0-17 to 2-06 with only nine minutes played in the second half. However, it was at this time when a real turning point in the game occurred. Wexford were awarded a penalty after Liam Óg was brought down in the square. A goal would see Wexford straight back into the game, only two points behind and with momentum in their favour.

There was some discussion between the players in relation to who would actually take the penalty. With Fanning’s absence from the panel, and with Lee Chin injured on the side-line, both Conor McDonald and Jack O’Connor were wanting to take the penalty and discussions occurred on the 21′ between these players. From the stands, Simon Donohoe could be seen running up the pitch and shouting at his club counterpart, Conor Hearne, to step up and take the penalty. McDonald was the one to hit the penalty, but the weak penalty, hit straight down the middle, was saved by the Galway keeper. To make matters worse, Galway cleared the ball up the pitch and the accurate Evan Niland slotted a ball over the bar. Instead of going two points down, it was a four-point turnaround, and Wexford were now six points down. It felt like everything was in Galway’s favour after this.

Rory O’Connor – Wexford’s newest full back:

Diarmuid O’Keeffe, who was deployed as a sweeper, had an excellent first half. He went off injured with 12 minutes gone in the second-half. One bizarre move by Darragh Egan was deploying Rory O’Connor as Wexford’s newest sweeper then. There was times that he was just sitting in the corner-back spot, when he was Wexford’s last man back, and when he even took a side-line in his own full back line. When O’Connor was deployed as Wexford’s sweeper, it must be noted that they were also seven points down. It does create the argument that if we’re seven points down, do we even need a sweeper? Surely, that’s the time when we should adapt, change our style, and go more attacking.

If persisting with the sweeper in this situation, just like what Wexford did do, we cannot place Rory O’Connor – our best attacker and our biggest threat up front – on the full back line. O’Connor featured as a sweeper for 13 minutes of the second half, and perhaps if Conor Hearne did not get injured, he would have remained there for longer. Hearne’s injury meant that Kevin Foley was brought on to replace him and Foley then dropped back as sweeper and switched with the St Martins club man.

Mogie, Matthew, and Jacko:

Wexford’s performance in the first half was led by stalwarts Liam Óg McGovern and Matthew O’Hanlon. O’Hanlon’s presence in the backs was really felt throughout the game. He came out with a lot of balls, made some important flicks, and kept Galway’s Conor Whelan relatively quiet for most of the game. In attack, Liam Óg’s performance was one for the ages. He was a real menace throughout the game. He scored 1-02, he won Wexford’s penalty, and almost all of the decisions that he made were correct. He played in front of his marker, found himself on a lot of ball, and was no doubt Wexford’s best attacker.

St Martins club man Jack O’Connor was introduced as a second-half substitute. O’Connor proved to be a menace and he did try hard in Wexford’s wing-forward line, picking up a lot of ball following his introduction. He slotted one over the bar, missed a goal chance, and hit another shot wide. The positive though was that he was getting on the ball in the attack, and this wasn’t really being done before his introduction in the second-half. When O’Connor is hurling well, he is really hurling well. Perhaps, he was trying also to prove a point that he should be in contention for this team. He should be starting against Antrim.


Another two honourable mentions must go to Wexford’s debutants yesterday. Conor Foley was told six minutes before throw-in that he would be making his debut against Galway, in Salthill, and he would be marking Cooney at centre-back. For a 20-year-old, he performed well and made a good account of himself. Likewise, James Lawlor will be relatively happy that he kept a clean sheet on his debut. Although some puck-outs were hit way-ward in the opening ten minutes, his puck-outs did improve. Lawlor did not need to make a save in the entire game, and he’ll be happy with his defence considering his goal-line was not challenged.

Wexford’s attention now turns to Antrim at home in Wexford Park next Saturday. After Antrim’s draw against Dublin this weekend, their confidence will be high and no doubt they will be targeting this game as a must-win in their Leinster Championship campaign. Wexford, on the other hand, will absolutely need a win – and a big crowd is expected in Wexford Park to cheer on the Yellowbellies.

(Featured Image: Noel Reddy)

Jason Redmond
Jason Redmond

From Gorey, Jason is the owner of Wexford Weekly. He is also a post-primary English and History teacher.

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