With the 2016 inter-county season in the books, it is never too early to look ahead to the 2017 season. In this series, we will look at all the contenders and see what they can achieve in the new year. Under new management, there will be an extra eye out for this county to see what the Slaneysiders can achieve under Davy Fitzgerald’s management.
Manager: Davy Fitzgerald – *The* managerial appointment of the winter, Davy will spice things up in the south-east, if nothing else this year.
Key player: Lee Chin – Without a doubt the main man on this team. One of the best midfielders in the country, he is the key to Wexford having more days like their win over Cork in Thurles in July.
Next Superstar: Conor McDonald – Already a well-known player, but in 2017, Wexford need him to be a difference-maker. Coming up with a score or two from play here or there won’t be enough, if they are to be successful this year.
Three reasons why 2017 will be their year:
Davy – The Clare man will add another dimension to the Slaneysiders. With an outside manager, players who are normally guaranteed a starting place will have to prove themselves again for the new boss. This could revitalise Wexford and see them perform better than they have over the last few years.
Under-21 success – While the Leinster Championship has been weak at this grade in recent years, Wexford won three-in-a-row, giving them a habit of winning. Because of this, not only do their younger players not fear Kilkenny, they expect to beat them.
They beat Cork – Even though the Rebels aren’t in a great place, if they can beat them, in a Munster venue, then why not approach games against the likes of Limerick and Clare with a bit of confidence. Wexford start 2017 with a league tie with the Shannonsiders in February.
Did last year give them hope? Yes, If Wexford can use the win over Cork as a stepping stone, then they have a good platform to build on. Let’s just hope the Thurles win wasn’t this side’s peak
Realistically, where are they going? A place in the All Ireland quarter-finals would be a huge achievement for Davy in his first year in charge. It is hard to see them going further, if they make it that far at all. The Wexford county board have already committed to giving the Clare-man three years so 2017 will be about putting structures in place.
Draw for 2017: Wexford will open their championship campaign against one of the qualifiers for the Leinster SHC preliminary group. This group consists of Meath, Westmeath, Laois and Kerry and, seeing as whoever comes out will already have three games under their belts, this could be a banana skin for Wexford – but one they must win if they are to have any aspirations of reaching an All Ireland quarter-final.
One reason to cheer against Wexford this year: If Davy considers Clare to be “small fish” in the GAA world, how does he see Wexford? Fitzgerald’s antics make him the perfect pantomime villain who people love to hate.