Four Talking Points Following Wexford’s Dismal Loss To Westmeath In Leinster Hurling Championship

The Wexford Senior hurlers lost out to Westmeath today…

A historic day for Westmeath, whereby they defeated Wexford for the first time in the Leinster Senior hurling Championship since 1940, was also a day to forget for Wexford hurling supporters. In what was described as one of the biggest wins in Westmeath hurling history, can also be contrasted with one of the darkest days for Wexford hurling history.

The game ended on a score-line of 2-21 to 4-18 in favour of the Westmeath outfit, who are managed by Wexford man, Joe Fortune.

Bottling half-time lead:

Wexford performed quite well in the first half of today’s game. At half time, Wexford were 2-15 to 0-05 up. It looked like the game was dead and buried, and it needed a miracle from Westmeath to see them back into the game. There was no wind, and no reason to believe that Wexford could let this lead slip when playing at home in front of their supporters, and with the potential of a huge game against Kilkenny next week to look forward to. Their second-half performance proved otherwise though; they lost the second half on a score-line of 4-13 to 0-06. There are more questions than answers. Complacency? Tactics? Thought we had it won? Desire? Perhaps it was a bit of everything.

Joe McDonagh for Wexford?

Wexford will take on Kilkenny next week in Chadwicks Wexford Park. Whereas it was being dubbed as a clash that could see Wexford advance to the All-Ireland stages, it’s now being seen as a clash that Wexford will need to win to avoid relegation. If Wexford lose to Kilkenny, and if Antrim beat Westmeath, then Wexford will be relegated to the second tier of the Leinster hurling Championship- the Joe McDonagh Cup.

Are Egan’s days numbered?

We are not in the business of calling for managers to be sacked or to leave. But, there is no denying that there are a lot of unhappy Wexford hurling supporters calling for it. This year, Wexford have not performed well under Darragh Egan. Throughout this 2022/23 campaign, Wexford have won two matches. They defeated Westmeath in the Allianz League back in February, and the only other victory came against Antrim in Wexford Park in the Leinster Hurling Championship. Since the start of the year, Egan appealed for composure and time; after all, his target for this year was to win the Leinster Senior hurling championship with the Yellowbellies. Concerned Wexford fans, who followed the team throughout the League campaign, were wary of this though. Could they turn it on when it mattered in the Leinster Championship, despite heavy defeats and a massive lack of consistency in the League?

After some mediocre performances by his team coupled with strange tactics against Galway and Dublin in the Leinster Championship, it’s no surprise that Wexford fans are now calling for this. It’s unlikely that anything will happen to Egan for this year, but it’s hard to see him managing the Wexford Senior hurlers again after the Kilkenny game next weekend, despite the result.

Support needed for Kilkenny clash:

It’s easy to point fingers when the game is lost. It’s easy to shift blame and to question others. A lot of questions are warranted; some criticism is warranted too. But, whether we like it or not, Wexford will have to play Kilkenny next week in Wexford Park. And despite the fact that Wexford cannot any longer progress into the All-Ireland stages, this game next week is vital to stop any further regression. If Wexford defeated Westmeath on Sunday, you could guarantee that a big Wexford crowd would have packed Wexford Park to cheer on the Yellowbellies against the Cats.

While it’s understandable for Wexford fans to feel aggrieved by the current situation, next weekend is the time where the Wexford hurlers will crave our support more than ever. It’s a hard time – a real rough patch to say the least – but Wexford fans will need to come out in their numbers if the Model County are to have any chance of beating Kilkenny in Wexford’s poor current form, and Kilkenny’s solid form, a team that will be looking forward to a Leinster hurling final.

Jason Redmond
Jason Redmond

From Gorey, Jason is the owner of Wexford Weekly. He is also a post-primary English and History teacher.

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