2018 marks the tenth anniversary of Wexford’s historic run to the All-Ireland senior football semi-final, a summer that will live long in the memory of those of the big-ball persuasion. And they begin their latest campaign as underdogs when they host Laois in Innovate Wexford Park this Saturday night in round one of the Leinster championship.
Wexford have endured something of an underwhelming provincial journey recently, as they have failed to win in each of the last three seasons, losing at the first time of asking to Carlow, Kildare and Westmeath respectively. They have played Saturday’s opponents three times in the last ten years, with the Midlanders coming out on top by 0-18 to 0-17 in round 2A of the Qualifiers in 2013, and by 0-16 to 2-8 in round three of the Qualifiers a year earlier.
But Wexford fared better in 2008 with a comprehensive 0-18 to 0-12 victory in the Leinster semi-final on the way to subsequently losing to eventual All-Ireland champions Tyrone in the last-four of the All-Ireland.
The purple and gold partook on a rebuilding phase throughout this year’s National League campaign, which saw them unfortunately make an immediate return to Division Four with one win from seven games. Conversely, Laois won the Division Four title in an efficient manner, going unbeaten throughout before beating Carlow in the final.
In fact, it is almost marked symmetry with last year’s form-lines when Wexford, fresh from their promotion to Division Three, travelled to Netwatch Dr.Cullen Park as the favourites to beat Carlow in the preliminary round of Leinster, only to come unstuck against the highly-motivated hosts.
So Wexford will be conscious of the value of home advantage and inner belief. The beauty of sport is in it’s unpredictability. The Model County will certainly be up for the challenge.