WEXFORD are in a good place under Davy Fitzgerald.
Arguably, there is no sharper side in Division 1 of the NHL at present.
Some will scoff at Fitzgerald having his troops in such excellent order in February. However, as the Clare native said himself after the Model County toppled Cork by four points, 0-21 to 1-14, last Sunday, “getting into a winning habit is not a bad habit”.
And, essentially, the earlier in any campaign you getting a winning run going, the better.
When you can afford to have a player of the calibre of Jack Guiney warming the bench until his 53rd-minute introduction against the Rebels, you know you have squad depth, too.
Guiney, of course, landed two sweet scores following his arrival to the scene including nailing an outrageous free under the covered stand when Wexford required an extra tonic in the closing salvos.
It is unlikely Fitzgerald will have Guiney as a substitute in the summer when the attacker is fully match-fit, however, it is a sure indicator Wexford are no longer over-reliant on operators such as the Rathnure man.
In saying that, we will understand more where the Yellowbellies are at after they compete with Tipp for two further league points in Semple Stadium. Win that and Wexford will clearly be in with a shout of landing the league title.
Even if they produced a top-class performance in defeat they could not be discounted from reaching the latter stages of the competition. Their dynamism is their greatest asset.
John Meyler, though, should be pleased with how the opening two matches of Cork’s divisional adventure have played out thus far, despite the loss in Wexford Park.
He was correct in pointing out too afterwards that the Leesiders will be in serious order by the time the championship comes knocking.
Meyler opined: “I’m happy with the performance but in the last five minutes they really threw the kitchen sink at us, they hit points and had a few wides. We had that goal opportunity late on, we worked it through the lines well but didn’t take it.
“They’re physical, they’re big men, they’re mobile, in the last five minutes they came through and got points while we were running into traffic at the other end. We have to work on that.
“You learn from your mistakes but you have to take your chances as well.”
Wexford’s conditioning is one of the main reasons for them collecting maximum points in the section on the back of two rounds of fixtures. It was clearly a key factor in Meyler’s eyes, especially in the final quarter.
“Wexford were ferociously competitive and intense - it was that type of game, when the ground is harder it’ll go quicker and we’ll be better. They’re more competitive than us at the moment, they’re probably two weeks ahead of us, but I’m delighted with the commitment we showed.
“In the first-half we were going alright without going through the gears. We were probably going as individuals when we needed lads going through the middle - Alan Cadogan got around his man a couple of times around the back but couldn’t offload.
“Wexford’s fitness levels for this time of the year are very good, Diarmuid O’Keeffe was powering through the middle at times in the second half. We still have a way to go but we’ll get up there,” Meyler stressed.
His managerial counterpart, as he tends to do when things are going well for any side he presides over, was keen to temper boiling expectations. He appreciated Wexford are in great nick because of the intensive shifts they have been putting in to guarantee early-season victories.
Yet, Fitzgerald, though playing their form down for obvious reasons, did have a point in saying Wexford will encounter a block or two on the road as they continue to evolve.
“We will hit a patch where we lose a few games, but you know what? Wexford are rightly up there and thereabouts - not at the top yet, but we’re not 100 miles off it.
“To me getting into a winning habit is not a bad habit. People say it’s very early in the year.
"I don’t really care. When you play hurling, you go out to win every game you can and that’s the way I’ve always approached it.
“Listen, there are times to get animated. I’ve left this up to them (the players).
"They know the story. They’re just told go out and hurl. We just let them off, let them at it, and I think they are getting more confident,” he added.
Fitzgerald’s players are certainly more confident nowadays, that is exactly what winning does for any team, after all.
However, with two further weeks of training banked, the Premier will launch missiles at them they may not be able to withstand next Saturday week.
Mick Ryan may not be able to field Seámus Callanan currently, but in Noel McGrath and Jason Forde Tipp possess two forwards in the form to trouble the meanest of rearguards.
For the record, Tipp should land the first blow of the campaign to Wexford.
Nevertheless, if that does not transpire, and Wexford emerge from Semple Stadium with a third victory on the spin then they will have to be taken really seriously in terms of being spoken as potential league champions.
That Thurles showdown is their acid test.