Those who stayed at home made a wise decision
Published 27/05/2016 | 00:00
Last week I expressed the opinion that if Wexford could keep the Kildare score down to 15 points, we had a great chance of winning.
As a defensive unit the team more than achieved that goal by restricting their opponents to a meagre nine points, an amazing feat at inter county level.
Unfortunately, and unusually for Wexford, the forward line didn't live up to expectations and failed to outscore their opponents.
This was mainly due to tight marking and a two sweeper system employed by Kildare, combined with a defensive approach not normally associated with our style of play.
Both teams employed a safety first approach which seemed to stifle any creativity or individual moments of brilliance which normally light up a game of this nature.
A defensive game like this is a horrible display for the watching spectators and the first half was certainly hard on the eyes from a Wexford perspective.
Trailing seven points to three was as good a result as we could have expected from a mediocre first half.
To be fair to the Wexford forwards it was almost impossible to find any space to be any way creative in a packed Kildare defence, but such is the modern game these days.
The second half showed a much more encouraging performance from Wexford, holding Kildare scoreless for the first 20 minutes. As usual the battling spirit in this Wexford team shone through as they fought back level and had their opponents on the rack.
When Kildare scored two vital points within two minutes, their only scores of the second half, Wexford still battled on and reduced the deficit to a minimum with seven minutes to go. I still felt Wexford were the better team at this stage and were going to pull off an unexpected win.
They tried to be patient and composed while trying to create an equalising scoring opportunity, but were thwarted by cynical fouling any time they looked like breaking through.
Kildare's time-wasting tactics and a few strange decisions by the referee against Wexford also added to the frustration in the closing minutes.
When the final whistle was blown I felt that Wexford were deprived of a draw that their second half performance deserved.
In truth it was an unforgettable game and ended with an amazing statistic that after seventy minutes of football the wide count was bigger than the match score for both teams.
Maybe a replay would have given both teams a chance to show that it not the way they normally play football.
I'd say the GAA were extremely disappointed by the attendance of just over 13,000 last Saturday evening, which would not have covered the cost of opening the stadium.
They should look at the timing of the games as it was a marketing disaster.
Saturday afternoon/evening in Dublin is a busy time to try get to Croke Park with parking and access not too straight forward in the city.
With the hurling game not finishing until close to 9pm it meant that families with young children would not get back to Wexford until 11.30pm to midnight.
Add to that the hurling game being televised live and there are a lot of disincentives that would encourage you to stay at home.
Dublin supporters have not fully embraced their hurling team either so they were never going to arrive in droves.
With the quality of both games that ensued on Saturday evening, I think the ones that chose to stay at home made a wise decision.