The u-20 Leinster Hurling final between Wexford and Offaly has been fixed for Dr Cullen Park, Carlow, on Wednesday (May 17th) at 7.30 p.m….
There’s a lot of excitement building towards the Leinster final.
As it’s such a novel pairing, with both teams craving more success, a large crowd is expected to attend the game. Wexford last won the Leinster u-20 title back in 2015, while Offaly last had success in this competition back in 2000, more than two decades ago. Offaly are bringing bus loads of supporters to the game. Likewise, it is believed that Wexford will also be bringing a big crowd. It’s an exciting game and the fact that the stand sold out in less than one day highlights the size of the crowd expected.
It was Andy Dufrane in The Shawshank Redemption who stated that “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” After their recent performances, both sides will have a lot of hope going into this game.
Along with the craving for success, both teams play a positive style of hurling, with fast and direct ball delivered, so it’ll be no surprise to see a big crowd in Carlow. To add to the spectacle even more, this Leinster final also acts as an All-Ireland semi-final and whoever wins, will be placed directly into the All-Ireland final against the Munster Champions, either Cork or Clare.
Returning Offaly stars:
Adam Screeney was absent for their semi-final clash against Offaly. To the delight of Offaly supporters, he will be returning for this clash against Wexford in the final. Screeney came to prominence last year during Offaly’s successful Minor campaign. He was name the hurler of the year after they won the Leinster final and only lost the All-Ireland final to Tipperary by one single point. Along with Screeney, Offaly will also be welcoming back Brecon Kavanagh who went off injured against Galway in the semi-final.
Although Offaly will be coming into the game with a boost, Wexford will have the defenders to match Offaly’s stars. One of Wexford’s best defenders last week was Simon Roche and he will likely be giving man-marking duties to stop Screeney. Overall, Wexford’s defence against Kilkenny was solid – and they will not fear the Faithful’s forwards.
Wexford u-20 hurling manager, Keith Rossiter, will likely have a bit of a headache going into this game with regards to his team selection. When introduced in the semi-final as a second-half substitute, JJ Twamley buried a crucial goal into the Kilkenny net and followed that up by winning a late free to help seal the game for Wexford. Similarly, Dylan Purcell’s introduction last week could give Rossiter a further headache. Named to start initially, Purcell was introduced as a second-half substitute and performed well when he came on.
One of the major absentees was Rapparees clubman, Oisin Pepper; Pepper was involved with the Wexford Senior set-up with Darragh Egan, but he has struggled to cement his place on the Wexford u20 team for reasons unknown. While it would be no surprise to see Rossiter start the same fifteen, it would equally not be surprising to see two or three changes made. It shows the strength and depth that he has at his disposal.
Typically, at this age group, Offaly will not implement a sweeper. It will be interesting to see if Rossiter employs Glynn-Barntown’s Darragh Carley as Wexford’s sweeper. Carley is a top player and plays the sweeper system excellently, with almost perfect distribution every time. Likewise, he’s able to get on the ball – and he’s able to pick a score from long-distance too. From watching previous Wexford games, it should not be surprising for Wexford fans to see Carley drop as sweeper at different stages in this game.
The bookies odds:
The bookies have found it difficult to separate the two sides leading into the game. Leading Irish bookmaker Paddy Power have priced both teams at even money. The draw, which is priced at 8/1, could be the bet of the day. Although both Wexford and Offaly will be pushing for silverware next Wednesday, more will be on the line: a place in the All-Ireland final against the Munster Champions if they win. This game has all the makings of an epic.
For those not travelling to the game, the game will be broadcast live on TG4.
The Munster final, and in turn the other All-Ireland semi-final, will be played this evening (Monday) and it will also be broadcast live on TG4.
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