PREVIEW: Wexford take on Limerick

By Peter O'Dwyer

PREVIEW: Wexford take on Limerick

By Peter O'Dwyer

For the first time in six years, Wexford will this weekend contest an All-Ireland quarter-final having seen off Waterford in the final qualifying round.

That 3-15 to 2-15 win over their neighbours set them on a collision course with a Limerick side dethroned as Munster champions by Cork.

Momentum is with Liam Dunne's men as they look continue their remarkable resurgence that has also seen them claim the scalp of All-Ireland champions Clare.

Dunne has his side performing brilliantly following the addition of a number of key players that have elevated the team to a new level; that of the big guns where Wexford feel they deserve to reside.

And they'd be right too.

Perhaps most pleasing to Dunne might be the spread of contributors to the county's rebirth. Paul Morris was the Model County's main man the last day out, following the example of young Jack Guiney who shone in the replay with Clare having come off the bench.

Lee Chin, Andrew Shore, Conor McDonald and Liam Og McGovern have largely been excellent throughout Wexford's return to form too.

In the hard-running McGovern and McDonald they have two very dangerous attackers whose contributions have proved decisive to date.

Harry Keogh and Guiney, should they line out in the wing-forward positions, could hold the key to victory however as they look to exploit a Limerick half-back line that struggled badly against Cork at times - Gavin O'Mahony and Paudie O'Brien in particular.

Dunne will be concerned with the goals his own side shipped to Waterford at the same time though

after Colin Dunford netted a brace for Waterford in Nowlan Park last week.

The battle between Lee Chin - he of the boundless energy - and David Redmond against Paul Browne and James Ryan will also be fascinating. Ryan, incredibly, matched Cork's thoroughbred midfielder Aidan Walsh step for step for most of the Munster final before seeming to tire towards the end. Against Chin in particular, he could be in for a similar afternoon's work.

For Limerick, it's about putting the right players in the right positions and making changes quickly and ruthlessly if needed. Against the Rebels, management seemed somewhat reluctant to make changes whereas Jimmy Barry-Murphy adapted to goings-on on the pitch much quicker, seemingly to his side's benefit.

TJ Ryan needs to work out a way of getting the best out of the immensely talented forward line at his disposal, Declan Hannon in particular.

The Adare man has yet to shine this season and looks extremely short on confidence as he toils on the periphery of each game he contests. One wonders if last year's All-Ireland semi-final performance is partly to blame or if he's simply struggling to find form. A player of his ability can't be a passenger however and it's the coach's responsibility to find a way of getting more out of him.

David Breen had a mixed day last time out too; fielding some early possession and winning knock-downs for teammates to gather but he drifted badly out of the game as it went on as he struggled to gain clean possession. The lack of variety on puck-outs made the tactic of hitting Breen predictable and did him little good however.

On a more positive note however, is the form of Shane Dowling who, save for some early misses from frees, was dangerous and clinical throughout, and Graeme Mulcahy who had probably his finest performance in the green of his county.

A little extra help for those two and Limerick will fancy their chances of pilfering a decisive goal or two against Wexford.

Billed as an undercard to Tipp and Dublin by the GAA, it promises to be anything but. Semple will be hopping in anticipation come 2pm today for a game that'll send Wexford back to the semis after years in the wilderness or Limerick to their second in succession.

Either would be a magical occasion.

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