Urgency shown by Wexford a positive in convincing win
Wexford kicked the serious end of their hurling season off with a comprehensive win over Offaly in the Walsh Cup semi-final last Sunday.
The game itself was unremarkable with proceedings dictated by the atrocious underfoot conditions, with Liam Dunne's men in control pretty well all through. Amongst the positives was the urgency shown by the home side from the off and the gap would have widened much earlier had James Dempsey not saved brilliantly when corner-forward David Dunne knifed through the Offaly defence.
Both Dunne and Cathal Dunbar looked sharp on the edge of the square and are well worth persisting with as they are players who will react favourably to a drier sod.
The physical condition of our players looked way ahead of the opposition and this was exemplified by a Lee Chin run from the defence in the second-half where he left the Offaly full-forward for dead, while it was good to see our players dominate the more physical type exchanges.
In fairness to the Offaly man, a small motorbike would be a required transport option to match young Chin for speed. The backs weren't troubled as a unit with Matthew O'Hanlon and Liam Ryan orchestrating events, but I'm sure they will appreciate that there are heavier battles ahead with the notable inclusion in the attendance of Davy Fitzgerald and Donal Og Cusack along with Laois boss Seamus Plunkett.
Offaly for their part have a worrying year ahead if this performance is anything to judge by as, even given the conditions, six points over 70 minutes is a sad return.
Harry Kehoe and Shane Tomkins had good outings and James Breen has settled in nicely, and if he can stay injury-free he will stake a strong claim for inclusion when the summer comes.
Onwards and upwards to Dublin and Croker next Saturday where we meet an in-form Dublin team which registered a goal and 28 points against Galway last weekend, and this game will give a much more accurate barometer of where we stand.
Despite the off-field issues in the capital, they seem to be getting it right when it matters and Ger Cunningham will no doubt want to lay down a marker in advance of our May date.
One of the great out-of-season debates over the past couple of years has been around player power, and with the removal of the Galway hurling and Mayo football managements, opinions differ on the level of influence they should have on off-field activities.
One side will point out that a non-elected body should not have a say on a manager's fate, and the other will feel that given the commitment and sacrifices made they deserve to have a large say in their future direction and who should lead them there.
It is not a recent phenomenon as many would lead you to believe, and I clearly remember it being an issue even back as far as when I began hurling for Wexford. In short, player power has been, is and will always be a factor in making decisions as in a nutshell they are the ones most affected by the outcomes.
It is something that needs to be controlled but in summary if the players are not on board it leaves the Anthony Cunninghams of this world without the power. While I would have a lot of sympathy for the Galway man (given his achievements over the past three years), it left his position untenable.
On the flip side, the growing emphasis on managers in all sports has become ridiculous with one trying to outdo the other in preparation methods etc.
With this in mind, the Galway team do need to conduct a reality check and appreciate that only the players can step inside the white line, and as players they are ultimately responsible for their own performance.
The secret is to have management and players on the one wavelength and to achieve this everyone needs to look at that little man in the mirror on a daily basis.