If we learned anything from Laois’ win over Dublin last week, it’s to enjoy every success when it comes your way.
Eddie Brennan rightly allowed his players time to enjoy their Joe McDonagh victory before they settled back down and pulled off the biggest shock in the hurling calendar so far this year.
Another team who were celebrating a historic win were Wexford after they claimed their first Leinster title in 15 years with victory over Kilkenny.
The team were welcomed back to the Model County as heroes and celebrations continued into the week.
“The scenes in Gorey were something unreal. Everyone was out on the street. The main street on Gorey is 700m or 800m long and it possibly took us an hour to get through it. It was just crazy”, admitted Diarmuid O’Keeffe.
Wexford team arriving in gorey pic.twitter.com/785GDMiD5d
— David ebbs (@ebbzer) July 1, 2019
“We went through Ferns and Enniscorthy, Oilgate as well, it was probably a little bit later in the night so it was a bit quieter but there was still plenty of people out. It was great to be part of it.
“When you don’t win something for so long and then you do get a bit of silverware, it’s important to enjoy it. Some of the younger guys like Conor McDonald and Rory [O’Connor] would have Leinster U21 medals but the likes of us haven’t any medals to show for it. “
O’Keeffe was speaking as he was announced as the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for June and while nothing can top the silverware he won on the last day of the month, it’s still an award that brings a smile to his face.
“First time ever. That can go along with my U12 most improved player of the year award for soccer. Absolutely delighted.”
Ten days after their Leinster final win and it has been firmly put in the past. The prize of victory in Croke Park was a free pass to the All Ireland semi-final and considering that they haven’t reached the final four since 2007, this isn’t an opportunity Wexford are willing to let slip through their hands.
If for no other reason, Davy Fitzgerald’s men want to reward their supporters who have packed out stadiums through the good times and the bad.
“Every conversation you have is about hurling. It’s largely down to the fact that it’s been 15 years since we won a Leinster Championship. We’re just trying to focus on putting that to one side for the moment and getting ready for two-and-a-half weeks’ time – that’s really important.
“While we really enjoyed it at the time, it’s time to leave that to the side for the moment.”
Fitzgerald has endured much criticism since he first stepped into the Wexford manager role three years ago but one masterstroke by the Clare native was moving O’Keeffe from the half-back line to midfield.
“I’ve moved positions in the last two years with Davy, I was wing back and now I’m middle of the field. Look, on a personal level it’s all about trying to improve yourself week after week and game after game, and that adds to a team performance then and team improvement.
“When I was coming up underage I would have always played midfield, so possibly it’s the most natural position for me. I’m just happy to play, so long as I’m on the starting 15 I really don’t care where I’m playing.”
Wexford must wait until Sunday before they discover their semi-final opponents and while some hurlers might prefer to stay as far away from games as possible when not involved, O’Keeffe admits that a few of his teammates might head to the game, though purely for enjoyment purposes.
“Possibly one or two lads might go to them. We won’t look at them as a team. But I’d say the majority of lads will be looking at them. I suppose you’ll be looking at the games from an enjoyment point of view more than anything.
“A lot of the lads play football as well so they might be looking at the Donegal-Meath game whether it’s on the telly or the game between Dublin and Cork so it’s just part of it.
“Following that, whether it’s Laois or Tipperary we’ll zone in on specifics.”