Let's savour this win after a tough eighteen months
Published 16/07/2016 | 00:00
A quick glance to my right in the Thurles press box summed this wonderful Wexford victory up for me on Saturday evening.
The radio facilities in the home of hurling are pretty basic and consist of a series of pigeon holes in the wall housing the enthusiastic commentary teams. A few windows up, sitting almost lifelessly beside our 'king of the mic' Liam Spratt, was South East analyst Gerry Forde.
Anyone who knows Gerry will appreciate his deep passion for Wexford hurling, and for me the emotion in his face when the final whistle was sounded best indicated the impact and meaning of this victory and its worth to genuine hurling people after a very tough 18 months by Slaneyside.
Readers needn't worry that I am losing the run of myself, thinking that all ailments are cured, but our first win over the Rebels since 1956 should not be underestimated, coming at a time when it was needed most.
I will also advise caution on expectation, and despite Waterford's heavy Munster final defeat we will enter this game quite correctly as underdogs given the consistency of Derek McGrath's men over the past 18 months.
The Deise are wounded but it is unclear as to whether the reaction will be positive or negative, and if positive someone will suffer.
For the first-half on Saturday I positioned myself close to the sideline beside the Wexford subs' bench which gives a great feeling for what happens on the ground. I was close to one of my present day heroes, Andrew Kenny, and we exchanged a brief hello as I didn't want to upset the young Alley man's focus when (as I felt he would be) introduced.
The man from Monamolin certainly didn't disappoint, helping to close out the game and will contend strongly for a starting position in two weeks.
Cork for the first 20 minutes contributed greatly to their own downfall, giving an exhibition in confusion with an inability to execute the short passing game, resulting in attacks breaking down and balls dribbling out of play harmlessly.
This allied to some wayward shooting can be very much attributed to the wonderful Wexford tackling and direct approach which for my money should have been rewarded with a more comprehensive victory.
An incident midway through, barely 30 yards from me, emphasised Wexford's approach and unity. Eoin Moore was caught between two players but threw caution to the wind and went for the man in possession (not always the best option), leaving his own man unmarked.
The pressure exerted broke down the attack and for me set a standard of no self-preservation in a purple and gold jersey that spread through our team like wildfire.
On a day when everyone was a hero, special mention again to my old friend Lee Chin whose form if it continues should result in the wearing of a dickie bow sometime around November. When leadership was really needed his second-half reply to the Cork goal summed up the Wexford man's contribution.
Conor Mac was also outstanding and quite simply without the big Gorey man we would not be preparing for our next trip to Thurles. When things got tight, Liam Og delivered with spectacular effect and young Dunne, again, created pandemonium in the Rebel defence.
Further back our half-back trio were excellent and special mention to James Breen who did a wonderful job controlling the supposedly uncontrollable in the Cork forward line. As a corner-forward I wouldn't have fancied an hour on the Adamstown man who was ably backed by a dominant captain in Matthew O'Hanlon and the ever-confident Mark Fanning in goal.
There are many battles still ahead but I think we deserve to enjoy this one. Up Wexford.