Getting to know the ‘unknown’ hurlers of Wexford

If elite hurling is suffering from an identity crisis, in terms of the anonymity of players, then this current Wexford team are the true unknowns. Fear not, former star Rory Jacob is here to provide insight into the men who started the Division 1 quarter-final win over Kilkenny.

Mark Fanning (26, Glynn-Barntown)

“Mark is one of the most dedicated players in the whole panel. His life is built around trying to be a better goalkeeper. He’s just obsessed with it and he would have very high standards. He would be looking to push himself on the whole time.”

Willie Devereux (26, St Martins)

“Willie is a lad on the panel for five or six years now and he’s had a few injuries when as an underage player people would have had high hopes for him. He’s getting his chance now and doing quite well. He’s a tight, sticky corner-back.”

Liam Ryan (22, Rapparees)

“Liam, like Conor McDonald, has been there since 2013 and he really came onto the team the year after. He’s a lad who would have always been fancied to make a name for himself. He’s been corner-back the last two years but his best position is where he is now at full-back. He’s never afraid to attack the ball and that makes it hard for a forward.”

James Breen (25, Adamstown)

“I didn’t play much with James but he would have been on underage teams and when Wexford got to an All-Ireland intermediate final three years ago James was there and he impressed. He’s your typical teak-tough defender. There’s nothing fancy about him and he’s a very good man-marker.”

Damien Reck (18, Oylegate-Glenbrien)

“Damien is the son of MJ, who was on the 1996 panel. He was a minor last year and I’d know from the club and training school teams that he’s a very good hurler. He was a centre-back when his club won the intermediate championship last year. He’s a promising player but give him time. The best won’t be seen of him just yet. He’s in Enniscorthy CBS doing his Leaving this year.”

Matthew O’Hanlon (25, St James)

“Matthew is centre-back this year but has been known more as a full-back. He’s been captain for two or three years, a real dedicated fella and one of the players who has the physical presence to go up against the stronger players on other teams. He leads by example and that’s what you want.”

Diarmuid O’Keeffe (25, St Annes)

“Dee is probably one of the most talented hurlers on the team. He’s played almost everywhere for Wexford. His biggest strength is in an attacking sense, he’s positive on the ball and makes good use of it. He’s travelling up and down from Meath, never misses a night’s training and is never injured.”

Aidan Nolan (24, Halfway House Bunclody)

“Going back to 1996, we had Colm Kehoe from Bunclody and then we had fellas like Colin Farrell a few years ago. Aidan was on our good U21 team and both this and last year he has been doing well for the seniors. He’s strong, he’s aggressive and a good stick-man. He can get up and down the field very well. He’s always good for a score.”

Shaun Murphy (27, Oulart-the-Ballagh)

“Shaun is after coming into his own this year with Wexford. He was on the panel in 2012, made his debut against Offaly and it really didn’t go that well for him. He kinda dropped out of the panel to concentrate on his form with the club and when we won the Leinster club in 2015 Shaun was moved to centre-back and he was excellent in that position. He’s suited to

the sweeper role and is a good reader of the game. He covers the ground quickly too.”

Conor McDonald (21, Naomh Eanna)

“Conor’s hurling speaks for itself, really. He would have always wanted to play for Wexford seniors and his enthusiasm for the game is huge. Conor is around since 2013, which is quite a long time for somebody so young. He’s playing a different role this year, sometimes working back the field, and that’s something he’s embraced. As regards finishing and aerially, he has all that.”

David Redmond (29, Oulart-the-Ballagh)

“He’s one of the oldest in the panel along with Richie Kehoe and Eanna Martin and his role has also changed. He would have always been a midfielder but he’s doing well in what Davy Fitzgerald is asking to do in the half-forwards. He brings strength and is always good to get a score and you can see he’s encouraging the young fellas. I can see him getting a goal soon.”

Jack O’Connor (21, St Martins)

“I would know Jack well from St Peter’s College and he comes from good stock, his father John and uncle George. The biggest attribute Jack has is his fitness levels. He gets around the field with ease and puts in good shifts for the team.”

Paul Morris (27, Ferns)

“Paul’s been around since 2011 and few in the panel can match him for skill. He’s always good for two or three points, which is even more impressive now when he’s performing different duties for the team this year away from his traditional corner forward spot. He rarely makes the wrong decision.”

Lee Chin (24, Faythe Harriers)

He’s an absolute monster. If you see him training, you’d know that he wouldn’t be lost in any professional environment. His fitness levels, his strength are incredible. Only the last two years has he been moved to the forwards but he’s offering a lot up there. Defenders are drawn to him and he’s making space for others. He needs to play well for Wexford to play well.”

David Dunne (21, Davidstown/Courtnacuddy)

“He’s a whippet with super pace. He didn’t play on many underage teams with Wexford but coming from a small club that wouldn’t be a big surprise.

He came on a substitute in the U21 final against Clare in 2014 but last year he came to prominence at senior level. He’s an eye for goal and backs still haven’t worked him out yet.

He’s run at them and wins a lot of frees. He’s not a fancy hurler but is very effective.”



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