Saturday 16 December 2017

Battle-hardened Wexford can down the Déise



Nowlan Pk, Tonight 7.0, Live Sky Sp 3

SO then, a case of 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' for Liam Dunne's boys of Wexford ... or another epic night on the road back to a place among hurling's elite?

There is an obvious temptation to view tonight's tantalising south-east derby as an ambush waiting to happen; that Wexford, having emerged intact from those two absorbing extra-time duels with Clare, will suddenly run out of physical gas and mental energy, seven days later.

Now, it's with a certain trepidation that we even use the word ambush, because Waterford are the ones accustomed to big championship days in July and August whereas Wexford are only now emerging from a long slough of despond.

There were signs, even when losing at home to Dublin, that Dunne's remodelled team is getting closer. Over the last fortnight, however, his players have taken a quantum leap forward and they arrive in Kilkenny with a far greater pep in their step, having toppled the champions.

By contrast, a Waterford team similarly emboldened by promising minor graduates started summer on a high (a draw snatched from the jaws of victory over Cork) only to collapse in the replay and then regain a modicum of momentum by easily seeing off Laois.

The direct running of Liam Óg McGovern, the target man promise of Conor McDonald and last weekend's resurgent form of Jack Guiney provide Wexford with a forward line capable of taking them to the next stage, namely the quarter-finals.

The only caveats are their propensity for scattergun wides, the fact that Waterford are rested and presumably primed and ... well, what happens after the Lord Mayor's Show.

ODDS: Wexford evens, Draw 10/1, Waterford evens

VERDICT: Wexford

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