All roads lead to Croker this weekend for Wexford hurling fans but just how important is it that they get one over on the Tribesmen this Sunday.
Recent form would suggest that their adaptability is stronger now than it has been in a long time. Their resistance to affliction was shown when they bounced back after a convincing defeat to Tipperary in the league.
It was also defiance and resilience that stood out most in the Leinster semi-final. It’s no easy task to keep the head up when you find yourself a goal down just seconds after the throw-in. They held composure despite being dealt such a heavy blow so early on. That’s the difference between the Wexford that was and the Wexford that now is.
Their willingness for a full-blown battle was palpable and their mission statement this season is clear. It’ll take more than a few spinkles of adversity to dampen the spirit of this Wexford side. The supporters’ faith is also gradually being restored, even with all the disappointments suffered over the years.
Their fans believe in them to the extent that they can proclaim “we’re back” with little doubt or reluctance as they say it. There is a feeling there that no matter what happens on Sunday, there will be no peaking in the rear view mirror from here on in, there is no going back to that dark, barren place they inhabited for so long.
Inexperience will be by far the biggest obstacle Wexford will face this Sunday. It’s been harped on about time and time again, but it can’t be overstated.
How many major games has Joe Canning and his comrades played in? How many times have they played in Croke Park? It could take all day just attempting to quantify it.
Simply qualifying for a position in the Leinster final has generated the interest and support in the county that just cannot be bought. But will experience stand in their way?
It’s been 13 long years since Wexford last got their hand’s on the Bob O’Keeffe cup. The players and the fans will be chomping at the bit for victory but if things don’t go to plan, they have the confidence and ability to pick themselves up and dust themselves off before having a go at an All Ireland quarter-final.
Sinead Kehoe, Pundit Arena
While you’re here, listen to this week’s episode of The 16th Man, where we preview all of the big action this weekend.