Blankets nowhere to be seen in a fine game of football
Published 19/03/2016 | 00:00
After an unconvincing victory over Waterford the previous weekend, Wexford needed to provide their supporters with a more creditable performance at home to Wicklow last Sunday.
They needed to confirm their position as genuine promotion contenders as well as proving to the doubters that they are on the right road to improvement.
They confirmed affirmative answers to both questions with a resounding victory over the Garden county men in front of an appreciative bunch of supporters.
The victory was not without some concerns as twice over the course of the game Wexford allowed their opponents to claw their way back into it having looked to be well beaten.
Wexford scored an amazing 1-17 in the first-half, enough to win any game, and some of the scores from play were sublime. Ben Brosnan, John Tubritt, Donal Shanley and Michael O'Regan were particularly impressive in their movement and hard work.
Daithí Waters was back to his best in midfield and worked tirelessly until he was replaced with six minutes to go when the game was well over.
In fact, the midfield dominance was one of the main reasons for the victory as Colm Kehoe also had a fine game.
In a very young defence, Naomhan Rossiter, Eoghan Nolan and Joey Wadding played well, while it was a landmark occasion for the Shelmaliers club as they supplied the entire half-back line for the second game running in young Nolan, Brian Malone and Simon Donohoe.
The win was far from perfect as the concession of so many scores is a concern. Wicklow are no world beaters, yet they still managed to rack up 3-14.
Amazingly, only three points of this total came from frees, so the scores weren't the result of a lot of fouling, it was more a failure to curb the overlaps and stop the direct running of the Wicklow players.
The one important thing I will say about the game on Sunday is that it was a pleasure to watch. Both teams lined out in the traditional 15 on 15 and there was no sign of the dreaded blanket defence system.
The game was played the way Gaelic football should be played. It had skill, great scores, high fielding, hard but fair tackling and honest endeavour.
The referee played his part in allowing the players to showcase the good side of their game with some unfussy and sensible officiating.
In essence, the game was enjoyable entertainment for the paying public and the type of game that would entice people back again to witness more of the same.
I wonder how many times we will get to say that again this year, although having watched a lot of the early league games on television, teams like Roscommon, Dublin, Kerry and Monaghan are certainly entertaining the crowds.
Will they change their style come championship time though? Hopefully not.
We won't get carried away by the victory last Sunday but you would have to be impressed with the spirit and commitment shown by the victors.
Young players are getting valuable experience in important competitive games, the only environment you can really make an accurate evaluation of a player's ability.
It was also good that David Power got the opportunity to use the full complement of six substitutes, including the experienced duo of Ciarán Lyng and P.J. Banville, both of whom made telling contributions on their introduction.
Wexford are back on track and promotion is still a reality, but they need to bring this level of performance in to the next crucial game against Louth.
It will be a tough task in Drogheda on March 27, but they are approaching it in a positive frame of mind.