The Wexford hurlers travelled to Tullamore on Saturday to face Offaly in their second-round of the new Leinster Championship round-robin.
Full time: Wexford 5-24 – 2-09 Offaly
Fitzgerald’s charges dominated proceedings from the start, gaining an early lead and keeping Offaly at a comfortable distance for the remainder of the game.
Here, we discuss the main talking points from Wexford’s 24-point annihilation of Kevin Martin’s Faithful County.
Targetted Dublin and Offaly, two wins:
Having defeated Dublin and now Offaly, we’re the pace-setters of the new round-robin Leinster Championship with two consecutive wins.
These were must-win games for Wexford, and they’ve now one step in the door to the All-Ireland Quarter-final stages, while a win against Dublin or Kilkenny would likely place them in a Leinster final (depending on other results and permutations).
But, as Davy says, we can only take it one game at a time, and a real source of momentum is building behind this team once again at the perfect stage.
Unchanged starting team:
Even though Fitzgerald openly understands the demands of the four consecutive weeks of championship round-robin hurling, the Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald opted for an unchanged side to face Offaly.
However, thankfully, Wexford was in cruise control against Offaly for most of the game – and Fitzgerald was afforded an opportunity to rest players earlier than expected, and to give other players much-needed championship game time.
Subs used: C Firman for Donohoe 46, L Og McGovern for Morris 51, H Kehoe 0-3, 2f for R O’Connor 51, W Devereux for P Foley 54, D Dunne for Chin 64.
Without a doubt, the biggest positive takeaway from the night was Liam Óg McGovern’s return to inter-county hurling in the Purple and Gold.
A victim of two cruciate injuries and following a vigorous rehab programme over the course of 3 years, McGovern is a welcome addition to this rejuvenated Wexford panel.
While he failed to get on the scoresheet, he was involved in a number of plays, being eased straight back into the swing of Championship hurling with 20 minutes left on the clock. There were doubts over Liam Óg’s fitness levels, or whether he would even appear in the round-robin, but it’s great to see him back in the purple and gold. And, even though it’s great to see, he’s not there to make up the numbers – and he’ll bring a new challenge to other members on the panel as he pushes for a starting place on Fitzgerald’s starting fifteen.
All-Ireland champions next:
Even thinking about Saturday’s encounter is mouth-watering. It’s being played in Wexford Park and a capacity crowd is expected to welcome the All-Ireland champions.
Galway defeated Wexford in last year’s Leinster final, but Wexford then defeated Galway in Wexford Park in this year’s League, in a game that they’ll take a lot of confidence from.
Our best penalty taker:
Aidan Nolan missed, while goal-keeper Mark Fanning stood up to take up the next one which he buried to the back of the net. Championship hurling is a game of inches – and obviously, we need our best penalty taker hitting penalties.