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Thursday 25 May 2017

The New Model Army is already marching to Davy's tune

Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile
Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile

On a weekend when Kilkenny reminded everyone, if a reminder was ever needed, of their continued place at the top table, it was their near neighbours Wexford, and more specifically their manager Davy Fitzgerald, who grabbed the headlines with their confirmed promotion into Division 1A of the National Hurling League.

While their 1-17 to 0-15 victory over Offaly in O'Connor Park, Tullamore was far more difficult than was originally anticipated, Wexford's return to the top flight was another feather in the cap of Fitzgerald and his ability to make an instant impact, which has been a feature of his managerial career to date, was once again in evidence to telling effect.

The desire to prove himself against his contemporaries still burns brightly for Fitzgerald, making Sunday's victory all the more sweeter given the presence of both Limerick and Galway in their division.

"For me it's nice to have a challenge to beat certain managers even at club or college level - to try and make a difference.

"In fairness Liam (Dunne) had done good work before me and I have to acknowledge that. I came in and got another small bit out of them.

"I'm delighted for everybody involved and it's great that we are going to be playing top-class opposition next season," he said.

"I thought it would take us a couple of seasons to make 1A, but the confidence that we'll gain in achieving the goal now should stand to us.

"I'm enjoying my time here. The supporters have been brilliant. It's easy to make the journey when you are getting that support." said Fitzgerald.

Wexford look well on their way to victory when a Conor McDonald goal handed them a 1-7 to 0-8 interval lead but despite a strong breeze at their backs for the second-half, they failed to push on from that platform and were grateful to see a 49th minute penalty from the normally impeccable Shane Dooley saved superbly by Mark Fanning.

The likelihood of Wexford facing Cork in next year's league increased yesterday with Cork relying their sketchy recent form by comfortably beating Waterford by 1-21 to 1-13 in Walsh Park.

Shane Bennett continued in a similar vein from Waterford's previous win against Dublin as he netted in the 5th minute but that proved the highlight for lethargic Deise team with Conor Lehane's six first-half points and three by Bill Cooper handing Cork a sizeable 0-15 to 1-4 interval lead.

The contest was effectively settled when Luke Meade goaled in the 49th minute with Waterford's misery compounded by the dismissal of Maurice Shanahan ten minutes from time.

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