Wexford really do seem to have the upper edge over Kilkenny in recent times…
Kilkenny travelled to Wexford Park on Sunday to face old-foes Wexford in the third round of the Allianz National Hurling Leauge.
Sweeper with the gale
It was interesting, that eventhough Wexford had a strong gale in the first half, Fitzgerald and the Wexford team persisted to play with the sweeper. Although it worked as Wexford led by seven points at half-time, it begs the question that if Wexford had pushed up, would they have been up a few more point going into the second half.
On the contrary, we can see what Fitzgerald is doing. When you think about it, he’s preparing for the Championship in the Summer when such gale force winds won’t exist.
Return of big-players
It was fantastic to see four big players come in off the bench. Matt O’Hanlon, Lee Chin, Rory O’Connor and Dee O’Keeffe drove the victory home when they were introduced into the game during the second-half. It was particularly nice to see O’Hanlon and Chin come on after they were out for months with injuries.
While the return of big players must be noted as one major positive, the performances of new players such as Joe O’Connor and Aidan Rochford hasn’t gone unnoticed either. Both were exceptional and have added extra strenght and depth to this panel.
Against the wind
This team has courage. Against a gale force wind and down a point after Richie Hogan stepped up to slot one over for the Cats, it looked likely that Kilkenny had the game just about wrapped up. But these Wexford players do not know when it’s over.
Helped by the introduction of the aforememtioned big players, Wexford battled it out against the Cats into a gale-force wind to claw back and attain a 1-16 to 1-14 win.
Winning is a habit, and we’ll take a victory over the Cats at any time of the year.
We should mix it up a bit more. The passing game is brilliant on the eye, but with a gale-force wind in the first half, Wexford could have reverted to a traditional style of hurling; of course, not always, but sometimes it would have been beneficial. The benefits were evident after Conor McDonald caught a high side-line ball from Jack O’Connor on the edge of the square to then stylishly flick it into the net, raising the green flag.
In fairness, you can only play what’s out in front of you. But, it wouldn’t be fair to completely ignore the fact that Kilkenny were without some of their top players too. Arguably, one of the best hurlers of the decade, TJ Reid, wasn’t playing while last year’s hurler of the year Adrian Mullen watched from the stands. Padraig Walsh and Colin Fennelly were not even named on the panels either.