Shane Keegan says inexperience wont be a problem for Wexford Youths this season

The Wexford side are in the top-tier for the first time in their history

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Manager Shane Keegan Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

On the opening night of last year's First Division, Wexford Youths lost 1-0 to Cabinteely in a packed Stradbrook on a historic night for the Dublin club.

"In a strange way it might have been what kickstarted our season", manager Shane Keegan revealed at the SSE Airtricity League launch as Wexford Youths went on to win the division by six points. A pipedream of Mick Wallace to create a League of Ireland team in Wexford, tonight's game is the first in the Premier Division for the club, as they enter their tenth season in the league.

Keegan is one of the longest serving managers in the league, having taken charge at Ferrycarrig Park in 2012. The Laois native only managed the team in a part-time capacity until this season when he also became the club's new Commerical Manager.

Despite the league win coming as a surprise to many last year, Keegan feels the club is ready both on and off the field for what the Premier Division entails. "We're prepared enough to give ourselves a right crack at it. I think staying in the division would be an even bigger achievement than winning the First Division, to be honest."

Danny Furlong scored 30 goals in the First Division last year. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Keegan admits that the team may feature near the foot of the table throughout the season, but the aim is Premier Division survival at the end of their last game of the season away in The Showgrounds against Sligo Rovers. Such is Wexford's short history, they have never even played Sligo Rovers in their existence.

The team is based from players around the south-east and has very little Premier Divison experience, but Keegan sees that as a positive. "The freshness and newness of it for so many players can be a massive positive. I think we have a great ethic in the dressing room that if the going gets tough, our heads won't go down."

Danny Furlong is the star of the side after scoring 30 goals last season. The Rosslare native is in his second spell at his local side after a brief spell with Cork City. Keegan feels Furlong's exploits last year have even been compared locally to All-Ireland winner Martin Storey.

The player's local backgrounds will be crucial to the success of the team this year Keegan feels ahead of the Longford game. "The people that are on the streets know they fellas that are walking out in a Wexford Youths jersey on a Friday night. There's not many clubs that can say that."

It has taken Wexford Youths ten years to reach the top table of Irish football. Keegan and his club are hopeful it won't be a short visit.