By Daire Walsh
Thursday April 07 2011
There was unconfined joy at O’Moore Park last night as Wexford secured their first ever Leinster U-21 football crown with a nail-biting victory over Longford.
Speaking in the aftermath of the dramatic victory, Model manager Kevin Kehoe was full of praise for his side’s never-say-die attitude and hunger.
“We showed great spirit,” Kehoe said. “I thought they looked in trouble when they (Longford) got back in it, but our lads have a never-say-die attitude, like Longford.
“So, I’m just glad we won. It didn’t matter if it was seven points or one point. We created history this evening, so relieved is the word.
“I think it was five occasions we were in the final before. We went close before and you need a little bit of luck. I think we deserved to win tonight. We lost our way a little bit in the second half.
“Longford are a good team as well, and they kept fighting. We showed great spirit tonight, and we showed great spirit all year.”
It was very much a family effort for Kehoe, as his son Killian lined out at full-forward — something that, aside from the historic nature of the victory, filled him with immense pride.
“Yes, it’s a big moment for the family, but it’s Wexford we were doing it for,” he said. “We took him off in the second half because we were trying to kick in high ball to him, but the lads weren’t kicking in the ball.
“So, he was most effective with the high ball, but once it wasn’t coming in high we tried something different and we got a score or two off it.”
It has been quite a week for Kehoe, as he was also involved with the Good Counsel side that were victorious in the Leinster Juvenile ‘A’ Football final against Marist College on Tuesday, which Kehoe feels shows just how much young talent there is in the county.
“Absolutely. Eight of the team that finished here would have played with Good Counsel, and four or five would have played with the St Peter’s College team. There’s a strong emphasis on football and hurling in those two schools especially,” he said.
With Wexford’s first ever Leinster U-21 crown now secured, attention will turn to their All-Ireland semi-final against the Ulster champions. This is something that Kehoe really wants to challenge with all their might, though he does understandably want to savour their provincial triumph.
“We’re going to give it everything,” he said. “We’ll throw the kitchen sink at it now because we’ve achieved something at long last. But we’re not even thinking beyond this match. We’ll enjoy ourselves tonight.
“Whoever it is, they’ve great teams up in the North. We’ll think about them (when it comes), and we’ll enjoy the next week. We’ll give it our best whoever it is.”
– Daire Walsh