Galway to quell Fitzy factor and Wexford buzz
GALWAY v WEXFORD, Pearse Stadium, Tom 2.0
THE buzz is back in Wexford hurling. On the terraces and on the pitch too.
A conversation this week with Tom Dempsey, the 1996 All-Ireland winner, confirmed what we had already suspected after a visit to New Ross last month.
"You're talking 4,000 people for a Walsh Cup semi-final against Kilkenny," Dempsey explained. "They just want something to grasp onto, because the feeling for hurling down in Wexford is as good as anywhere."
You won't get such small ball fever in a vacuum, and the players are showing plenty of initial signs of responding to their new manager, Davy Fitzgerald.
They lost narrowly, and unluckily, to Kilkenny in New Ross. And last Sunday, albeit aided by the elements, they retrieved a six-point half-time deficit to vanquish promotion rivals Limerick by three.
"There was an amazing intensity about the game," enthused Dempsey, citing the obligatory fracas where "nobody was killing anybody but, by God, they were going in hitting each other ... there was a championship atmosphere. You didn't get two seconds on a ball."
Tomorrow, however, they might get even less. Galway will provide a more accurate barometer of Wexford's early progress under Davy Fitz - especially at home.
Even minus the recuperating Joe Canning, they amassed 6-23 against Offaly, Jason Flynn leading the onslaught with 2-10. Privately, Fitzgerald might fancy some revenge for last July (when the hosts effectively ended his Clare reign) but he may go home disappointed.
ODDS: Galway 1/3 Draw 10/1 Wexford 13/5