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Sunday 4 December 2016

Slaney to end eight year Croker exile

Wexford manager Liam Dunne: SPORTSFILE
Wexford manager Liam Dunne: SPORTSFILE

There was a certain amount of disingenuous self-interest at play but Liam Dunne's plea during the summer of 2013 to GAA's fixture makers to set their Leinster SHC quarter-final replay against Dublin in Croke Park, rather than Parnell Park, revealed something of a bizarre statistic.

"I'd be very disappointed if they bring us to Parnell Park next week," he said.

"I think the main pitch up in Dublin is Croke Park.

"I think these two teams deserved to be playing in Croke Park and not sidetracked to be put in Parnell Park next Saturday evening.

Hierarchy

"I hope the hierarchy and the men with suits on them in Croke Park will look kindly on us. We haven't been in Croke Park since 2007."

As it happens, Dunne was wrong. The Slaneysiders played in Croke Park in the 2008 Leinster final, a 5-21 to 0-17 humbling by a Kilkenny team on the way to perhaps the most dominant season in their most dominant era. But still. Eight years?

"It is the big unsaid thing around Wexford," admits Liam Griffin.

"It's something that needs to be bridged," adds the 1996 All-Ireland winning manager.

"Being in Croke Park on big days shapes the attitude towards the GAA for younger people in Wexford and it's important that we have that."

The reasons are many, but mostly, Wexford's slump has coincided with Dublin's rise and Galway's arrival in Leinster.

"The fact is that we're not getting through the quarter-final or the preliminary rounds and with Leinster semi-finals being played more in provincial grounds, it's just that harder to get to a Leinster final and to play there.

"People won't travel in their droves on Saturday because the Walsh Cup is very much a secondary competition but it's good for the young players on the team.

"They'll be back there against Dublin in the championship. So it's good preparation."

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