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Friday 2 December 2016

Wexford just one win away from promotion dream

Shane Keegan
Shane Keegan

After less than ten seasons in the League of Ireland, Wexford Youths are in the remarkable position of being just one win away from a place in the Premier Division.

But even though the Division One title can be secured if Wexford win at home to Athlone Town tonight, there will be no trophy handed over this evening, by orders of their manager, as boss Shane Keegan is keen to keep focused instead of dreaming.

"I have gone out of my way to make sure that the trophy won't be in the ground tonight, for the simple reason that we have won nothing yet," Keegan told The Herald.

"If we have won a trophy, then the FAI can hand it over at our next game but I just want us with our minds on this game tonight. We're in a strong position but we have won nothing yet. Our approach tonight will be exactly the same as the last few games. We're on a run of six wins, we did that because we went from game to game and that won't change tonight.

"OK, I know the players would love to win tonight and then enjoy a really good weekend, but until it is actually done, we will approach this like any other game."

In these times of austerity, Wexford Youths are a model of good behaviour. The entire squad are unpaid - it's unfair to describe players who make the 750km round-trip to play Finn Harps twice a year as amateurs - and it would be hard to sustain a side in the Premier Division next season on an unpaid basis.

But for Laois-born boss Keegan, at 33 the youngest manager in the league, competing in the top level is something to welcome, not fear. "It would be fantastic for all involved to go up," says Keegan.

"Every single player would love the chance to measure themselves on a weekly basis against the top players and to judge where they are as players. That, to me, would be the most exciting part of being in the Premier Division, the potential to test ourselves and see if we can get better."

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