Seniors’ humbling will spur Laois U21s, says Dempsey

FOUR days after one of the county’s darkest hurling performances, the Laois U21’s bid to restore some faith in the county when they face Wexford in tonight’s Bord Gáis Energy Leinster hurling championship semi-final.

Five of the visiting team — Eoin Reilly, Neil Foyle, Willie Dunphy, Ben Reddin and Jimmy Corrigan — were involved with the senior side that capitulated to Cork by 34 points in Portlaoise on Saturday yet manager PJ Peacock wasted little time in getting their minds focused on tonight’s game.

He explained: “We didn’t give the lads too much time to dwell on it. We trained Sunday morning for an hour, then went for a swim before watching a DVD of Wexford’s quarter-final win over Kilkenny.

“Our plan now is to move on from last Saturday and I’ve been talking to the lads about the importance of that.

“You’re remembered for your last game in hurling and this is a chance for our lads to make up for last Saturday.

“I was impressed with Wexford’s work rate against Kilkenny, and we want to match that now.”

In the Model County expectations have rocketed after that brilliant quarter-final win against Kilkenny.

Manager Tony Dempsey admits it was a significant success for hurling in the county.

“It was wonderful. Kilkenny have won the last three Leinster minor finals and two All-Ireland minor titles as well.

“A lot of their guys have medals and big game experience. So it was a huge achievement. My abiding memory is of the crowd coming onto the pitch afterwards and almost 40 minutes later there was still people out on the pitch just drinking in the atmosphere.

“Kilkenny are the aristocrats of Leinster hurling and it’s a big thing for us when we manage to beat them. That doesn’t happen too often, so we cherished this win.”

Dempsey is wary of the challenge posed by Laois especially after their weekend woe.

“I think the disappointment of the seniors losing to Cork will motivate Laois. They have some excellent players. Neil Foyle got some impressive scores for the seniors last Saturday.

“We will be paying them the highest respect. Wexford can’t afford not to do that in hurling as we’ve been beaten by Carlow and Dublin at underage in recent years. We’ll be approaching this game with great caution. Andrew Shore is a big loss as he is gone to the USA while John Leacy got six stitches in his finger recently. But we have good replacements in Rory Sludds and James Gahan who were both unlucky not to make the first 15.”

WEXFORD: M Fanning; W Devereux, M O’Hanlon, E Moore; J Gahan, M O’Regan, S Murphy; E Kent, R Sludds; S Tomkins, H Kehoe, L Óg McGovern; P Morris, J Breen, P Doran.

LAOIS: E Reilly; B O’Meara, P Flynn, L Hegarty; W Campion, N Unwin, G Gaughan; G Burke, B Dunne; J Corrigan, N Foyle, T Ryan; B Reddin, W Dunphy, P Keating.

Picture: Wexford manager Tony Dempsey: Will approach Laois game with caution. Picture: INPHO

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