Joint Wexford captain Lee Chin has rejected the suggestion that the county might have been better off remaining in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League.
Davy Fitzgerald’s side open their top-flight account with a trip to Waterford on Sunday, following a surprise promotion in 2017.
Waterford boss Derek McGrath claimed this week that he’d prefer if his team was still in 1B, for various reasons.
It was from there that Waterford emerged as eventual league champions in 2015 while Clare and Galway did likewise in 2016 and 2017.
Some feel that the lower intensity of 1B gives a greater opportunity to experiment and that, with the top four qualifying for quarter-finals, they are still guaranteed enough big games before the summer.
However, Chin dismissed the notion that Wexford may be at a disadvantage in the top flight this spring.
“The standards that you would hold for yourself, they definitely increase in 1A,” said Chin. “You’re playing against the best teams out there and the standard of games are better and you know you’ve got to hit certain levels to be competing each week. It’s knowing you’re going to be playing the likes of Tipperary, Kilkenny, Cork, Waterford, Clare, you just know you have to be on your ‘A’ game every time you go out.
“That’s going to be the difference for us this year, but it’s a positive thing, absolutely, I don’t think it’s a negative, at all. It’s definitely going to be something we’ll learn a lot from throughout the 1A campaign.”
Wexford used just 28 players in last year’s seven-game league campaign, which ended in defeat to Tipperary at the semi-final stage.
Kilkenny, with 27 players used, were the only All-Ireland challenger that used fewer, while seven of Wexford’s players started every game. There may be even less room for experimentation in Division 1A due to the cutthroat nature of the competition.
“I still think there will be a lot of new guys that will feature this year,” said Chin, who overcame a shoulder injury to appear as a sub in last Saturday’s Walsh Cup final win over Kilkenny.
“Davy’s played a few of them during the Walsh Cup and a lot of them will get plenty of game time with their colleges as well. He’ll always be keeping an eye on that and on them in training. They’re definitely upping the standards in terms of ability in the panel and I think he’ll be confident enough to throw them in for a few National League games.”
Chin reckons that, despite moving up a grade for 2018, Wexford are actually in a similar boat now to the beginning of the 2017 league campaign.
He explained: “Our first two games last year were Limerick and Galway, which are both teams that are at the standard of Division 1A teams. We’re definitely aware, though, that the league is probably four weeks earlier upon us this year, given that we went back two or three weeks later and the league also came forward two weeks. We understand we probably haven’t had as much time preparing, but fitness and injury-wise it all looks fairly solid.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved