We must move on, says Fitzhenry

WEXFORD hurlers must overcome the loss Liam Dunne and Larry O'Gorman if they are to harbour League or championship ambitions, according to goalkeeper Damien Fitzhenry.

Dunne and O'Gorman announced their retirement from the inter-county game in the past month.

And Fitzhenry admits they will be a loss.

"It's a big change after the years hurling with the two lads and they are going to be a big loss to Wexford hurling,'' he says. "Life goes on. They decided to pack it in and there's nothing we can do.

"We still have 15 lads on the field. While some lads will be missed more than others, that's the way it goes!''

Fitzhenry is fulsome in his praise of Dunne.

"I don't think anybody can doubt it, Liam was possibly one of the greatest half-backs/ centre-backs of our time. It has been different going out without him in recent times but I know he will be up in the stand for every game egging the rest of the lads on.

"Hopefully, we can do the job for him this year.''

But the loss of two stalwarts is not the only change of concern for Fitzhenry. Tonight, Wexford and Cork make history in Páirc Uí Rinn when their second round NHL tie becomes the first such game to be played under floodlights (7.30pm).

Wexford have had three games under lights this year but Fitzhenry played in just one of them. That was against Dublin, at a Wexford venue.

"That game was in Craanford a fortnight ago. The local club put up a new lighting system and it's a good set-up, up there with the best. The lads who played in the other games seemed to find it good, playing under lights.

"That night against Dublin, I found them okay, except that it does take you a few minutes to get used to them.

"Páirc Uí Rinn is going to be different and it may take a while to adjust. For that reason, we'll get out on the field a few minutes earlier.''

However he doesn't believe the lights create additional difficulties for goalkeepers - because of the flight of the ball or the direction from which the ball is struck.

"Once you get settled into the game the lights will be okay. Obviously if there is a ball in from the side that the lights are shining from, it's going to be difficult to see. Then again, it's no different to hurling in Croke Park on a sunny day in the summer!''

Fitzhenry also has an open mind when it comes to assessing Wexford's League and championship prospects.

"We'll take one League game at a time and see how we progress. We have been drawn against Kilkenny in the first round of the Leinster championship, and games don't come any tougher than that.''

More immediately, he's looking forward to renewing the rivalry with Cork. Last season, after Wexford impressed when beating Waterford in the qualifiers, they forced Donal O'Grady's side to a replay in the All- Ireland semi-final.

"There are going to be changes in both teams. Hopefully, if we can spark some sort of a game that resembles the one we had the first day, it will be good for the crowd.''

CORK: D Óg Cusack; A Fitzpatrick, D O'Sullivan, M Prendergast; G Callanan, R Curran, S Óg Ó hAilpín; T Kenny, A Coughlan; J O'Callaghan, M Byrne, T McCarthy; S McGrath, B Lombard, E Fitzgerald.

WEXFORD: D Fitzhenry, K Rossiter, D Ryan, M Travers, R McCarthy, D Ruth, M O'Leary (capt), T Mahon, P Codd, M Jacob, J O'Connor, M Jordan, B Lambert, R Codd, R Jacob.

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