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Friday 2 December 2016

Conor McDonald: 'It's surreal looking back at Wexford wonder goal'

Conor McDonald
Conor McDonald

WEIRD week in the travails of Wexford hurling. Buoyed by their own upward trajectory, the seniors set off for Nowlan Park in search of blood.

They came back tasting their own at the back of their throats in a cruel, chastising defeat, one that came a couple of days after Jack Guiney - an orchestrator of their recent surge - was cut adrift for breaches of discipline.

Then, the U21s scythe through Offaly in Tullamore to set up a crack at Kilkenny and a third Leinster title at that grade on the spin and in doing so, put together a goal of intricate beauty.

A fluid team move, started in Wexford's full-back line, finished to the net by Cathal Dunbar after the deftest of flicks from Conor McDonald had set him clear on goal.

"By the time we got to the dressing-room, it was Twitter notifications and stuff going crazy," revealed McDonald.

"It was a bit surreal looking back on the video. There's maybe a minute video and there's so many nice little touches.

"I was just saying before that this under-21 team, there's so many lads that have players together since maybe under-14 up to minor and there's no real lads who made a late break into the team.

"Everyone understands each other's strengths and that's a sole example of knowing how each other work."

The axing of Guiney - with whom McDonald won his previous two Leinster U21 medals - was unfortunate, if not entirely relevant to Wexford's sloppy performance in Kilkenny loss.

"I don't think it was a distraction," McDonald says now.

"There's 30 other fellas there who were driving on and that was a matter between Liam (Dunne) and Jack.

"They came to the conclusion and we were just ready to go play Kilkenny which was the sole focus that week."

As it worked out, Wexford were destroyed.

Not the first or the last team to suffer such a fate in Nowlan Park but in doing so, fell nakedly below the raised standards of recent times.

"We expected a lot more from ourselves," McDonald admits now. But it didn't go our way, in any way, shape or form. And Kilkenny were very good as well.

"We didn't play up to our potential but they played up to their potential, and people were shocked by that, as well. In my eyes anyway, it doesn't mean the year is over or we're not meeting our potential," McDonalds adds, with Cork to come to Wexford Park on Sunday, both in need of salvation.

"It was only this time last year we were actually hitting our potential, this weekend coming last year when we played Clare in Cusack Park.

"Everyone was going mad about this Wexford team and the summer isn't over yet, it's only really starting with the nitty gritty and knockout hurling.

"I think knockout is where we play best," McDonald concludes, "and hopefully we'll put it right on Saturday."

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