Model reinvigorated by Davy Fitz, says Matthew O’Hanlon

Matthew O’Hanlon made his league debut for Wexford at Pearse Stadium six years ago this month.

Davy Fitz

It didn’t go well. The visitors were held to 0-6 and finished 21 points adrift of Galway.

Sunday represented his first return to Salthill since that chastening afternoon. The centre-back fared much better on this occasion, so too did Wexford.

The county’s hurlers haven’t sat at the league’s top table since that 2011 season. That’ll change next spring. 

Promotion out of Division 1B is in their hands and based on the evidence presented in Salthill on Sunday and Wexford Park the weekend previous, it’s unlikely they’ll slip up between now and the end of March.

They rescued a seven-point deficit against Limerick and pulled back a six-point gap with eight minutes remaining at Salthill.

“No disrespect to Laois, Offaly, or Kerry, but if we perform like we did here, I can see us getting promoted,” said O’Hanlon.

Their situation sits in stark contrast to this time last year when they fell to Limerick and Clare by 11 and four-point margins respectively during the opening fortnight of action.

“We lost those two games and the rest of the league was played out without anything to play for. This year, we knew if we could get two wins we’d be there or thereabouts for promotion. 

"Beating Limerick for the first time in a long time gave us belief and we knew that if we could win up here that we’d be in the driving seat for promotion.

“This is an absolutely massive win for us. Compare this to the hammering we got up here in 2011. It just shows you the journey we have come on.”

When Joe Canning hammered home a 53rd-minute penalty to send Galway 3-12 to 0-15 clear, the old Wexford mentality would have been to lie down and give credence to a pecking order which has Galway several places above them.

Under Davy Fitz, however, they have a more defiant look about them.

“You could hear the roar when Joe Canning came on and you would have expected them to kick on when he got the penalty. But Lee [Chin] got us a penalty and you make your own breaks in this game. 

"Thankfully, we got one there and Mark [Fanning] stuck the penalty. We could have fallen away. But we kept clawing it back, clawing it back. We got some huge scores from Conor McDonald in the last five minutes.

“Davy has obviously invigorated us. There is a lot of motivation and inspiration that comes from him. He is a very passionate man. 

"Our performances in the league and the Walsh Cup have given reason for people to come out and support us. Everyone is out to impress.

"It is still February, though, and we don’t have any silverware." They don’t, but they do have momentum. Galway don’t have much of that at present but do at least have Joe Canning back in harness.

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