Losing again hurts but many positives emerged this time
Published 27/02/2016 | 00:00
Losing twice in the Allianz Hurling League Division 1B will hurt Wexford as it ends their chance of promotion to the top flight.
Confidence must have been shaken as they went into their second game in eight days, this time against a much-fancied Clare outfit who had won their five competitive games in the lead-up to the Model county clash.
But credit to Wexford. Following the disappointment of the Limerick defeat they were determined to lay down a marker in what was their first home game.
Losing to Limerick meant that they needed a morale-boosting performance and this is what they gave home supporters, battling right to the end and only succumbing to their opponents in the closing five minutes when two errors cost them crucial scores.
This was a different ball game to what we saw against Limerick. After being suffocated in the Gaelic Grounds, Wexford bounced back with a battling performance, a display of true grit and some quality hurling that saw them come ever so close to upsetting the odds.
While defeat was their lot in the end, there is much they can take from this game.
The Wexford squad offers a reminder that there is only so far you can travel unless you have the talent. They were decimated with injuries for last Sunday, down to just four substitutes.
It may change over the coming weeks with Liam Dunne hoping that the majority of those players will be available for the third round game away to Kerry on Sunday week.
Wexford are suffering from years of failure at Minor level. This has been offset somewhat by three successive provincial Under-21 titles, but one would have expected more of those players to emerge as serious contenders for Senior places at this stage.
It may change in the future having made a clean sweep of Under-21 hurling in the province over the past three years, but it will take time and considerable work.
With the Under-21 set-up Wexford may be putting the structures in place, but this needs to be fed by a more successful approach to Minor. That is all for another day though.
The outcome means that Wexford face a stiff challenge as they will be seeking results against Kerry, Offaly and Laois, in that order so as to qualify for the league quarter-finals, while also of importance is preserving their Division 1B status.
In other news, there was no chance of Wexford ever voting in favour of an All-Ireland Senior 'B' football championship for Division 4 teams.
There was unanimous disapproval for a move towards such a system, with Wexford determined that the status quo remain.
But something to emerge from the County Board meeting that I disagree completely with was the decision of club delegates and the top table, however many of each that voted or failed to vote, to support a motion to do away with the inter-county Intermediate hurling and Junior football championships.
These are two grades that brought provincial titles to the county over the past two years but the delegates failed to focus in on what this meant to those players.
One is only talking about a handful of games between both codes, played midweek, but the motion was still surprisingly backed by those in attendance at the meeting.
There was little or no resistance to the proposal, but those who claim that the doing away of these grades will free up more time for club activity showed their lack of knowledge, as these are grades that could be completed over a three- to four-week period without any interruption to club activity.
But my suspicion is that not just delegates themselves, but their clubs, gave little or no discussion beforehand on the lead-up to what was on the County Board agenda.
It simply does not make any real sense for Wexford to vote in favour of this motion.
Perhaps a way forward would have been an open draw for both championships which would have brought more glamour to the games.
Wexford heads were buried in the sand on this one. In a county where we generally find success hard to come by, it beggars belief that delegates would favour the abolition of competitions that have yielded lots of silverware.