Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball column
Welcome bid to tackle our Minor ills long overdue
Getting to grips with the inter-county Minor hurling set-up has long been a problem for Wexford G.A.A.
We constantly hear the comment each year: 'We have a good Minor hurling team. We are capable of winning a provincial title at least'.
But that's as near as we get, as even our provincial final appearances have been sparse. But it requires a shock result before any real action is taken. Minor hurling hit a new low this year with championship defeat to Westmeath, winning just one championship game and that against Laois.
Players with colleges were left untouched until their schools championships were progressed to almost finishing levels. Given the progress of the County Wexford colleges in both hurling and football, this should have filtered through to inter-county. The players were returning to the inter-county set-up with high fitness levels, well-coached skills and knowing how to win.
But for some strange reason this did not transfer through to the Wexford Minor set-ups. So, despite the vast amount of money allocated to sides, progress has been non-existent.
It has been a pricey pitch for Minor success. The lazy view is that it will happen. This is the motto each year when it came to appointing under-age managers. Casually, the names will be put before County Board and accepted without a murmur.
Wexford Minor football made progress over the past two seasons, but still it's no longer acceptable to hear the line thrown out: 'they played their hearts out'.
County Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux, announced to this month's County Board meeting that he was collapsing the current Minor system. Simply put, the old system is no longer acceptable or viable.
But he did not collapse the system without real thought. He has brought together a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Michael O'Grady. We all remember Michael's time in Wexford C.B.S. and his involvement with the Model county Seniors. But it was his involvement with Dublin in helping to formulate an under-age system that has powered the county back to the top of the hurling ladder that will be spoken most about right now.
The hurling supremo will also be backed by one of Wexford's own, Jim Bolger. This is a man who knows all about success in the horsey world and how it's achieved.
They will be given an agenda to have a deep-rooted look at Minor hurling in the county and where it is taking us. Over the next six weeks they will gather their own thoughts together along with those closely associated with the small ball game and report back.
This is something that has been needed in Wexford under-age hurling. One now fully realises that money will not solve all problems. There is something seriously wrong at this level and must be addressed.
Their findings will be eagerly awaited. The only problem is enforcing the solutions they come up with. But this can be met by telling County Board that simply this is the only way to run county Minor hurling with a view to achieving success.
When on County Board, one was alarmed at the level debate dipped to when discussing the simple issue of District Junior games, Junior 'B' in another term. This coupled with the concern at an inter-county Senior hurling challenge taking place mid-week before the club championship.
Nowadays one would be shocked to hear a positive response from some delegates. The Chairman suggested a meeting between the C.C.C.C. and District Secretaries would solve the Junior issue, the clash of District championships with All-County leagues. But this did not sit lightly with Wexford District Secretary, Joe Sheehan, who vented his frustrations in a rather acrimonious manner.
On the inter-county game this could have been conveniently solved with a little dialogue between clubs and their own players. The view and comments of some delegates was disturbing, particularly as it was extended squad players who were being utilised for the Dublin challenge.
The G.A.A. mantra is 'give respect - get respect'. The County Chairman always respected the views of delegates but sadly on this occasion was offered little respect in return.