Wexford have entered this summer campaign with real question marks, after a dour 2020 championship saw them recede from the limelight.
After the highs of 2019, the Yellowbellies failed to live up to expectations last winter, and they tamely limped from the championship with 13 and seven-point losses to Galway and Clare respectively.
Nonetheless, they looked to resume normal service with a 5-31 to 1-23 drubbing of Laois on Saturday, picking up their first championship win since the 2019 Leinster final in the process.
Lee Chin was under no illusions that they needed to raise their game.
“ was a motivating factor. Coming into the game, we knew last year’s championship wasn’t up to the standards that we wanted in the way we performed. This year, we want to get back to those standards again,” the Faythe Harriers man outlined, speaking a the launch of a concussion testing and treatment programme by the GAA, GPA and UPMC.
“I think we can take a bit of confidence from the manner in which we played [against Laois]. I thought we hurled particularly well and we put up a good scoreline. It was still a tough contest. It was still championship pace.”
But bigger tests lie ahead, with Kilkenny waiting in Croke Park this Saturday.
“Kilkenny were in my opinion the most impressive team throughout the league. They had some great performances, looked very strong,” Chin said.
“You can tell with the way they’re playing at the moment, they’re playing with a lot of freedom and a lot of confidence as well. Look, they didn’t finish top of our league for no reason either. They put in some really good performances. This week is going to be a very, very good test.
“It’s been nip and tuck the last number of years. We’ve had some really great battles, and a lot of the games have been tight. It’s been two or three points going to either side, either Kilkenny’s way or our way, really really stiff contests.
“Wexford and Kilkenny meeting has been pretty common throughout the years. Kilkenny for years were the kingpins of hurling. They’re probably the best team in Ireland to test yourself off.”
Kilkenny are probably the best team in Ireland to test yourself off.
Chin is expecting a battle
The Cats enjoyed a comprehensive victory in the National League meeting between the sides last month at UPMC Nowlan Park, 2-27 to 0-23.
The Model County are keen to atone for their off day.
“We’re happy that we get another opportunity to play Kilkenny,” Chin outlined.
“In the league, we probably didn’t really hurl very well on the particular day. Not taking away from Kilkenny, they actually did hurl very well on the day. And it was a performance that summed up their league. I thought they were very good in the league. I thought they were very impressive. We’re just going to prepare well during the week, we’re going to recover from last weekend, and just go into this weekend and attack.”
Kilkenny flew out of the traps that day, and Wexford had no answer.
“Kilkenny are always going to be Kilkenny,” he continued.
“I think they are the most consistent team in the country for the last decade or more, and they are always going to bring that element of aggression and intensity, stuff we were obviously fully expecting on the day.
“We just didn’t match them for it. That’s just as simple as it was.”
Watch a bumper hurling triple-header on Saturday live on Sky Sports. Dublin take on Galway, Kilkenny are up against Wexford before Cork and Limerick face off. Coverage gets underway from 1pm on Sky Sports Arena.
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