Wexford could only manage a draw against Westmeath on Saturday evening in the Leinster Senior Hurling Championship…
Hurling fans throughout the land, and all Wexford hurling supporters, were shocked by this weekend’s result. The draw was described by some as a “dark day for Wexford hurling” and one of the worst “results for Wexford hurling in decades”.
Some would also say that a shock was on the cards.
Wexford have not been performing well in this championship campaign whatsoever. A hard-fought draw against Galway, a home loss to Dublin, and a win against Laois highlights Wexford’s lack of championship consistency following a rather impressive Allianz Hurling Leauge campaign.
On the other hand, Westmeath, led by Wexford native Joe Fortune, were competing with teams. They were competitive against Kilkenny for large parts of the game, before Kilkenny started to run away with it at the end, while they ran Dublin close in Parnell Park. With Wexford travelling to Cusack Park, they would have earmarked that game as one that they could get a result from.
Entering the game, Wexford were priced with the tag as 1/40 favourites. It was a David and Goliath battle in the eyes of the bookmakers.
Westmeath had nothing to lose and they were deserving of their draw against Darragh Egan’s Wexford men on Saturday evening.
They did not give up, Wexford found it hard to pull away, and their goal in the dying seconds of the game from Derek McNicholas was a testament to their attitude throughout the game.
On the other hand, Wexford’s performance was questionable. Wide after wide, missed chance after missed chance, mistake after mistake. Perhaps they believed they had nothing to do, but just to show up.
But, during a time when it’s simple to criticise the Wexford hurlers, let’s instead get behind them and show them why Wexford hurling supports are some of the best supporters out there.
It’s difficult being a Wexford hurling supporter, but despite the draw, not all is lost. While the Wexford hurlers may have suffered a psychological impact following the draw with Westmeath, it has to be reaffirmed that their aim does not change in the slightest.
They still need to beat Kilkenny next weekend in Nowlan Park.
And Brian Cody’s Kilkenny have to beat Wexford too.
In recent times, the Kilkenny-Wexford games have been close affairs.
Kilkenny will go into the game as favourites. After a comprehensive 17-point mauling of Dublin in Parnell Park on Saturday, they are beginning to hit form and it looks like it’s at the right time. Adrian Mullen, Evan Cody, and TJ Reid can cause havoc to Wexford’s defence.
But Wexford have not become a bad team overnight either. Even though they have not performed well in this year’s championship and their preparation for the game was a draw against Westmeath, this may not be a one-sided affair as some are suggesting.
The Wexford players will know themselves that they’ll need to make amends. And such a perfect opportunity has now arisen; beating Kilkenny on their home patch against all odds would reignite the purple and golden flame that has been missing this championship series. After all, we are a team that lacks consistency and perhaps that lack of consistency may get us over the line next weekend against Kilkenny.
Wexford’s dream of a 2022 Leinster Hurling final has been crushed for this year, but if they beat Kilkenny next week, and if Galway manage to defeat Dublin, then Wexford will march on into the All-Ireland stages.
There’s a battle on our hands next week. A mighty uphill one for Wexford. But we can take inspiration from our ancestors, and our heritage, and look back at 1798. Wexford have never shied away from a battle and we’re not going to start now.
It’s still all to play for.
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