Hop Ball: Findings on Minor hurling debacle are very keenly awaited
Published 18/08/2015 | 00:00
Thank God for the hurling championship as it has served up some wonderful games - which is in stark contrast to the Senior football.
And the Under-21 hurling championship has backed up what has been dished out at adult level, with hopefully more to come with the All-Ireland semi-final double-header scheduled for Semple Stadiuam this Saturday.
But having viewed the two All-Ireland hurling semi-finals, it's now time for the Wexford hurling public to change direction - change to a path of having patience.
Amid the sense of anticipation this year, following last year's exploits, the season fell flat, not just for Wexford but also for the likes of Clare, Limerick and to a lesser extent Dublin and Cork. Having had plenty of time to reflect on this year's Senior championship, with still the All-Ireland final to come, Wexford have some way to go before becoming serious title contenders.
Last year when watching this young Wexford outfit, fans were left believing that the county was becoming ready to return as a serious hurling force. But right now it's fair to assume that Liam Dunne and his backroom team will be introducing more of the Under-21 set-up for the 2016 league and championship campaigns.
People may quibble at this but this is the road which Wexford has to go. In their quest to build a successful Senior team, Wexford must provide continuity or revolution. Dunne will opt for revolution, as he has already signalled at least four changes to his squad with more to follow.
For sure Dunne took over at a difficult time for Wexford hurling. In his four years he has brought about major change, with further change still to come, but having witnessed a youthful Galway set-up backed by experienced players in key roles, it seems as if Wexford are adopting a similar path to their Galway counterparts.
Kilkenny of course are the team to beat. Brian Cody has had a marvellous run, no doubt one of the greatest hurling managers of all time, but he could still hit a vacuum with no Under-21 provincial title for the past three years, while the Minors suffered All-Ireland semi-final defeat last Sunday.
History shows that every county can come across an exceptional group of players.
Kilkenny have been lucky in this aspect, but can counties like Wexford, Clare, Galway and Limerick to build on highly successful Under-21 squads?
Cork have been devoid of under-age success in either Minor or Under-21 so the flow of young players is drying up.
Future signs are not all bad for Wexford, with three provincial Under-21 titles in a row, hopefully leading to a second All-Ireland final appearance. Three teams in the Leinster Colleges Senior 'A' hurling should also lead to a more structured approach to Minor inter-county hurling.
The Minor hurling review was not easy but is now in its final days before a full presentation will be handed over to Wexford G.A.A. within a short timeframe.
When something goes wrong, as it did against Westmeath in Minor hurling, a review is always inevitable. This review is probably something that should have been undertaken some years back, given our dismal record in this grade.
Wexford failed to learn from their failures with Coiste na nOg this year not grasping the real problem. Given the inadequate system at Coiste na nOg level in selecting managers, County Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux, felt it was the opportune time to collapse the Minor structure.
Even without the stark realities of this Westmeath loss the call for a review process was strong, as our record as a serious Minor hurling contender was dismal.
There will be a re-shuffle if the review addresses and corrects all of the issues with brutal honesty.
Having acknowledged that Coiste na nOg lacked the imagination to steer the Minor grade forward with a proper managerial structure, the events since the Westmeath loss may prove very fruitful if the right people are deployed to take charge of Wexford Minor hurling from 2016 onwards.
We witnessed hurling at the highest level over the past two weekends. Now that is the place to where Wexford hurling has to be driven.