It’s been over two weeks since the county completed the minor and senior provincial double against Kilkenny and the hurling buzz in Wexford shows no sign of slowing up.
Quite the opposite in fact as a large crowd is expected to descend upon Innovate Wexford Park this evening for the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U20s hurling final when the county will face the Cats once again.
With bunting, flags and a feel-good atmosphere still engulfing Wexford, U20s star Eoin O’Leary is hopeful that his side can use the support to their advantage against their fierce rivals.
“I was sitting in the stand watching the minors and seniors on Leinster final day and it was definitely something to make you excited to be in a Leinster final, especially with the county on a buzz.”, he said at the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-20 Provincial Championship Finals preview.
“I’ll drive back home this evening and the minute you hit Gorey, the flags and everything are out, especially with the final being in Wexford Park. As you saw from the minors and the seniors, we do bring support and good crowds so hopefully, we can use that to our advantage and really cherish the 16th man to cheer us on.”
Regardless of the support level, the challenge facing MJ Reck’s side is a significant one. Wexford haven’t won the competition since their treble glory in 2015 and after being stung at both minor and senior level, Kilkenny will travel to Wexford Park with a point to prove.
Adrian Mullen is a player who has impressed on the senior stage and O’Leary knows that he is just one of a number of talented stars that Wexford will face off against this evening.
“Even thinking of a couple of names off the top of my head, Adrian Mullen, and I’m in college with a couple of the lads so they’re no strangers to us. At the same time, the likes of Adrian, Eoin Cody, Evan Shefflin, Michael Carey.
“Lads are going to be tricky but when you’re playing the starting backs, starting forwards in training, you’re up against the best. A few of them will take watch and it’s going to be a tough night for an awful lot of lads.
“They probably are favourites, you can’t take anything away from the Kilkenny team, they’re up there with the best. I think the semi-final against Offaly really helped us.
“A good few of us watched Kilkenny play Galway, they’re a big, physical team, they’ve smart hurling brains. They’re going to bring it to a different level than the last day but I think we’re prepared for us.”
While O’Leary hopes that the U20s can use the recent buzz in Wexford to their advantage, he is wary not to get swept away in the current hype while he admits that the side do feel pressure to follow the example of the seniors and minors.
“The minors and seniors are after meeting them now and there is a bit of added pressure on the U20s for this Leinster final to deliver. The Wexford fans will be, not expecting, but feeling optimistic in the home patch.
“At the same time, we need to keep the heads grounded and not buy into all the buzz. We need to concentrate on our own game and hopefully, that’ll get us over the line.”
Throw-in on Wednesday in the Bord Gáis U20s Leinster Hurling Final is 7.30pm and the game will be shown live on TG4.