WHAT A difference the last two weeks and two games have made in the league season for the Wexford Senior footballers.
n important win against Leitrim was followed up with a convincing victory over Waterford last Saturday, and as a result their league ambitions are firmly in their own hands for the last three matches.
While the first-half against the Déise was a close affair, Wexford were a different proposition in the second-half as they turned the screw on their opponents.
The tally of 2-12 could have been a lot more but for some wasteful finishing, but at least chances are being created.
There are many positives that can be taken from Wexford’s performance, even considering Waterford’s abject display in the second-half.
Some more of the inexperienced players gained valuable game-time and with it the confidence of being part of a winning team. Nine different scorers contributed to the final tally, including four defenders, which shows that the team has options and do not have to rely on one or two players to finish the chances they are creating.
The team also showed patience in the first-half playing against a strong breeze, but then managed the game well in the second-half when making the most of the advantage afforded by the wind.
While it was not a perfect performance it was still very pleasing as they held their opponents to a tally of 1-6 and won the game comfortably. Management and supporters are a lot happier after the last two victories.
Now the big test comes, as next weekend the team travel to Markievicz Park in Sligo to take on the Tony McEntee-managed hosts in the biggest game of the year so far.
This game will be a true assessment of the progress Wexford have made to date. We can be assured that Sligo will be very difficult to beat on their home patch.
McEntee will have them well organised in defence but playing fast ball into the forward line, very much like the style Wexford are playing.
In two of their games so far this year, Sligo have scored 18 and 21 points respectively, showing that their attacking style is paying dividends.
Cutting out the supply to their forwards and disciplined defending will be the order of the day if we are to get the crucial win. Wexford will also have to be clinical with their finishing, as chances will not be as easily available as they were last Saturday.
We are now in a situation where we have three games left that we must win, leaving no margin for error. It brings added pressure and turns our league into a championship-style competition.
But these are the games top-class players train for, and I think this group will revel in the challenge. Full focus will be on next week only, the adage of taking one game at a time could not be more appropriate, and I think that Wexford will respond by producing the required strong performance to take the points.
Another excellent win by a Wexford team over the weekend should not go unmentioned either, as the ladies’ footballers had a big win over Louth on Sunday. Louth were previously unbeaten and would have fancied their chances at home, but crucial goals from Aisling Murphy and Caitríona Murray helped Wexford to a four-point win.
This sets up an exciting end to the campaign, with the next game against Longford and the final one against current table-toppers Kildare. Like their male counterparts, it also leaves the ladies with their destiny under their own control.