And no, it’s not that the players are a few months older now…
Kilkenny hurling great turned analyst Jackie Tyrrell gave high praise to Wexford’s recently-turned corner-back Joe O’Connor:
Speaking to RTE Sport, the Kilkenny legend highlighted one major difference between the Wexford team that lost to Tipperary in last year’s semi-final and the Wexford team that recently defeated Kilkenny by two points in the Allianz Hurling League:
“They’re a very conditioned, durable team. They’re able to go the full seventy minutes. What came undone for them last year against Tipperary is that they couldn’t sustain it. They hadn’t got the bench to empty. They hadn’t got the lads like Tipperary to contribute.”
“If you look at Joe O’Connor – he came on last year in the All-Ireland semi-final for Damien Reck. He looked a little lost. He didn’t really contribute and he actually ran into Liam Sheedy on the sideline. He didn’t really do a whole lot, but you look at him now.”
“He is exactly what Davy Fitz wants; a corner back, aggressive, attacks the ball, pops the pass and goes again. He’s brought him on! I believe Jack O’Connor has also brought his game on to another level.”
The Kilkenny native continued:
“He is developing a panel. It’s probably still not where he wants it to be, but he has options off the bench and that’s what he wants for the highly conditioned game he plays, the running game game and high press. You need twenty athletes who are able to execute that for seventy minutes, and that’s what caught them out last year.”
Listen to Jackie Tyrrell’s comments below:
The Wexford hurlers will have little time to celebrate that win though. Fitzgerald’s charges are out again this weekend when they’ll travel to Croke Park to face Dublin as part of a double-header.
If you’re looking for transport to that game, Wexford Weekly are running a bus for just €15 return with pick-up points in Wexford, Enniscorthy, Ferns and Gorey.