Scramble on to field final team

Intermediate hurling farce

Brendan Furlong

J.J. Doyle has his work cut out to assemble a squad for Wednesday's Leinster Intermediate final
J.J. Doyle has his work cut out to assemble a squad for Wednesday's Leinster Intermediate final

There has been some drama over recent days as Wexford scramble to assemble a squad for their Leinster Intermediate hurling championship final meeting with Kilkenny in Nowlan Park this Wednesday (7.30 p.m.).

The Wexford management of J.J. Doyle and Shane Carley have been marooned in their bid to get players to give a commitment to wear the purple and gold for what is a provincial decider, given that they were unable to release any names to the media up to last Friday night as they struggled for players, let alone numbers.

Such has been the disinterest, not just among players but also at the top G.A.A. level, that County Secretary Margaret Doyle issued an e-mail to all clubs on Thursday seeking players in an effort to fulfil the final fixture.

The e-mail said:

'A chara,

We are due to play Kilkenny in Intermediate Hurling Leinster Final on Wednesday next in Kilkenny.

This year Wexford can only play players from Intermediate teams down. Despite the best efforts of appointed manager, J.J. Doyle, he is at present not in a position to field a team. He has contacted a vast number of players and has not been successful.

This is due to players gone travelling, refusals, withdrawals, and unavailable for personal reasons.

With this in mind we are contacting clubs to establish if there are players who are interested in playing on Wednesday night.

If there are can you please contact me by 4 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). I will advise when I have clarity on the situation.'

When contacted on Friday night, J.J. Doyle said there will be a team.

'There was confusion regarding the status of players,' he said. 'This year Wexford cannot field its second best team and cannot now choose from Senior clubs. Now, it's for players from Intermediate clubs down.

'We have 40 players on the Senior panel with only one of those players eligible for Intermediate, while only three of the Under-21 starting 15 are eligible.

'When asked to take on the position I was going to have it as a development squad but the latest ruling denied me that option. Galway pulled out owing to the ruling, while Cork pulled out of Munster who introduced an Under-25 championship.

'We will have a squad for the Kilkenny game but I don't have names at the moment,' he added.

Later on Friday night, selector Shane Carley re-iterated they would be fulfilling the fixture.

'We will have a squad together. It's been a busy time with Senior and Under-21, but we will get players together,' he said.

Unlike Wexford, Kilkenny have Under-21 and Minor provincial titles under their belt which will leave them determined to make it a hat-trick of silverware, despite the disappointment of their extra-time exit to Waterford in the Senior hurling qualifier.

Even though Wexford were aware of their commitment to this championship once registered with the Leinster Council, the county management committee have serious questions to answer given that the county is still scrambling for players for a provincial final in the days leading up to the game.

Wexford have a proud record in this grade since its inception with many players making their adult debuts and winning provincial titles and All-Irelands in the build-up of their career to eventual All-Ireland Senior success.

Incidentally, it was in 1966 that the great Tony Doran made his adult debut in Intermediate hurling, playing alongside the legendary Billy Rackard who still deemed it an honour to wear the purple and gold despite a coveted career that had seen him play in six All-Ireland Senior finals.

The take on this Wednesday evening's final should make for interesting discussion irrespective of the outcome.

Wexford People

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