Willie Devereux is honest about beating Kilkenny. The Wexford defender says the championship win was great, but admits “it won’t count for a whole lot if we leave it at that”.
“It’s great to see people you see during the week, parents, family members, all of them delighted, and it’s great to be part of it.
“It was a good day in Wexford Park. We could have done with more of them in the past, but you have to move on from it quickly, get back to training, and focus again.
“The last day won’t count for a whole lot if we leave it at that, though. We’ve made progress, we got promoted, but we intended to get promoted, we didn’t want to stay there. We’re working hard, training’s going well, the camp’s enjoyable to be around.”
One of the central figures in Wexford’s renaissance is manager Davy Fitzgerald.
“We’ve had massive success since he’s come here,” says Devereux. “He’s so professional, with some of his thoughts and theories. He seems happy with us. We’re happy with him, though at times he might give you a bit of a roar, but his coaching is fantastic. All the backroom team are doing a great job.
“I wasn’t there the first night, I came in a little later. There are a few press-ups given out for not bringing in the balls after training, alright. I’ve ended up doing a few of those.
“Is that respect for the ball, hanging onto it? Maybe. We’ve respect for everything; we clean the dressing-rooms after us, the dinner plates, we clean up our gear. That’s how we do it.
“You respect yourself, your teammates, opponents, the lads who prepare the fields for us to train on, all of that. It’s general respect. He respects us as players and we respect him, too.”
How unusual was it to be fancied in many quarters for the semi-final against Kilkenny?
“I didn’t hear of us being favourites ahead of that game. I don’t think anyone around here saw us as favourites.
“We went into the game [and] we knew what was facing us, that we’d beaten them once already. We had our own plan and it went well, thankfully.”
How hard was it to stick to the game plan after conceding a goal in the first minute from a TJ Reid penalty?
“I had to stick to it, anyway,” says Devereux, who was centrally involved in that early incident. “Things happen, fair enough, they get a goal in the first minute, but the other side of that is you have 69 minutes to get that back.
“We stick to our plan, no matter what happens. There are different things can happen, you stick with it.”
Wexford take on Galway this weekend, being the only team to beat the Tribesmen this year, on a scoreline of 1-21 to 3-13 in the league.
“We got on top of them in the second half, but Joe Canning came on that day. I’d be shocked if he only comes on on Sunday. It’ll be a different Galway team. It’s a final in Croke Park, not a league game in Salthill, so it’ll be different.
“Look through their team, they have great forwards, they bring huge physicality, they have high-profile names, like Joe Canning. They’ve been in All-Ireland finals, they’ve beaten Kilkenny, but we’ll be prepared for them.
“They’ll have an edge in experience. Some of us haven’t played in Croke Park in a few years, but it’s just a game, really. We’ll prepare and Davy, presumably, will put something in place. Their experience will stand to them but there’s no harm going in fresh either,” said Devereux who dropped out of the inter-county scene last year. “I was off the panel last year and Davy brought me in. I wasn’t getting as much game time as I wanted and work was heavy enough, so I went... back to the club for the year. Happy to be back now, though.”
With the way the year is going, that’s no surprise.
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