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D O Keeffe.

D O Keeffe.

Diarmuid O'Keeffe wants Wexford to maintain standards


ByCianO’Connell


BeliefandmomentumhavebeenacquiredbyWexfordwiththeinformDiarmuidO’KeeffehugelyencouragedbytheirAllianzHurlingLeagueDivision1Aopening.

DavyFitzgerald’schargeshaveekedoutvaluablevictoriesoverWaterfordandCorkensuringSaturday’striptoSempleStadiumforaclashagainstTipperarywillberevealing.

TherewassomuchtoadmireaboutthemannerinwhichWexfordsecuredpromotionbeforereachingaLeinsterFinalin2017,butO’KeeffeishopefulthattheteamcanmaintainthehighstandardssetduringFitzgerald'sfirstcampaignincharge.

“100%,”O’KeeffeanswerswhenaskedabouttheimportanceofWexford’sstayingrelevant.“Lastyearwasprogresson'14,'15,and'16.ItwasbrillianttogetintoaLeinsterFinalandwewerethrilledtogetupto1A,butyouaren'tlongbeingbroughtbackdowntoearthifyoudon'tbuildonthatthisyear.

“Ifyoudon'tkeeppushinglastyeardoesn'treallymatter.Youwon'tbelongbeingbroughtbackdowntoearthwhenyouareplayingtheKilkennys,Corks,andClaresofthisworld.Itisprogress,Isuppose,butultimatelywewillbelookingtopushonagainin2018.”

ThatiswhyitwassocrucialforWexfordtodeliverintheearlyroundsoftheLeague.“Yeah,itisaverygoodstartandtheconfidenceisverygoodatthemoment,”O’Keeffeadmits.

“Weareabsolutelydelightedwiththefirsttwowins,albeitwehurledverywellincertainperiodsofbothgames,butweweredisappointedwithacoupleofthingsinbothgames,wedidn'texecutesomethingsthatwell.Overall,though,wearehappy.

Diarmuid O'Keeffe is in good form for Wexford, who have made a solid start to their League campaign.
Diarmuid O'Keeffe is in good form for Wexford, who have made a solid start to their League campaign.

“It was massively important to get wins because in Division 1A anybody can beat anybody on any given weekend. So I suppose we needed a win early on to get our confidence up and running, not to be putting ourselves under pressure.

“We are absolutely delighted to be on top of the table after two games, but unless we get a performance this weekend again we could be down to fourth or fifth before you know it, depending on results. It is so competitive, it is so important to get those wins early on.”

O’Keeffe, a secondary school teacher, continues to contribute wholehearted and dynamic displays for Wexford.  One area of optimism so far is the depth of the Wexford panel with substitutes delivering when it truly mattered against Cork.

“We did lose a couple of guys, but we have other guys coming in staking a real claim,” O’Keeffe says.

“Paudie Foley at wing back is there this year, he is hurling very well; Kevin Foley has come into midfield, he is putting in some solid performances; Cathal Dunbar and David Dunne in the forwards are staking a massive claim as well.

“While the lads are performing on the pitch, the aim of any sub coming in is to make an impact and the last day against Cork particularly Jack Guiney and Harry Kehoe came on, these lads got a couple of scores for us which eased the pressure a little, it pushed the whole performance on to another level.”

So did O’Keeffe’s willingness to work for the Wexford cause. Facing Tipperary under the Saturday night lights on the hallowed Thurles turf is precisely where Wexford want to be.

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