Thursday 22 August 2019

Carlsberg weekend leaves fans with a big game to savour

Tom Dempsey's hurling analysis

I have long felt that if you have a penchant for unusual G.A.A. stories the only place more likely than Wexford to demand your attention is the county of Clare.

The stories emanating from the Banner this week are unusual (if true as they haven't been confirmed by the Clare management) to say the least, with disciplinary punishment for two players ranging from no access to the changing rooms to not being allowed to talk to team-mates.

Reports suggest that the two players, Davy O'Halloran and Nicky O'Connell, were prohibited from wearing the panel training gear and travelling to matches, and as a result at least one of the two felt there was no option but to pull out of the panel.

I can't help but think if a similar ban had been imposed on me in years gone by I could have lived with most of the sanctions.

You could tog out in the car, wear my St. Joseph's United gear and get a lift to the games, but anyone that knows me will probably appreciate that not being able to talk to my team-mates would have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

I am being a little flippant and dismissive to this ridiculous situation and will appreciate that there are possibly two sides to the story. However, given the information available it further emphasises for me that things are becoming way out of hand with regard to preparation and pressures on young players.

Last weekend was a real Carlsberg one for Wexford hurling fans with the defeat of Limerick throwing promotion back into our own hands.

Every so often a little piece of luck goes your way that can transform a season and it is now up to Wexford to maximise the opportunity with a mouth-watering fixture with our neighbours Waterford on Sunday.

When Saturday evening's result became apparent the pessimist took me over and I started to really worry about the Laois threat the following day.

The game, however, further emphasised the maturity this group of Wexford players are showing of late, and with young Ian Byrne radar-like they brushed the midlanders aside in the concluding 25 minutes.

I have long since said that if I were to pick the best six forwards in the country, Liam Og McGovern would be automatic, and his ability to create openings is the main reason for our ever-increasing ability to score goals.

The other Mac (Conor) made a welcome return and showed why he is so highly rated, and with Eoin Moore, Liam Ryan and Lee Chin controlling things at the other end we have reason to believe that we can make a right cut at achieving promotion.

This is where caution needs to kick in as the form team of this division will enter our back yard on Sunday with very few inhibitions.

They flattened Antrim (remember how we struggled there) and with a stream of top-class young talent allied to a devastating Stephen Bennett, Maurice Shanahan and the ever-reliable Páuric Mahony, they will provide a completely different challenge to what we saw in Kilkenny last summer.

Happy days however with a huge occasion ahead on Sunday (nobody does it better than Wexford Park), a league quarter-final to follow and hopefully a right crack at the Cats in June. A passionate home support will carry us over the line in my opinion but don't rule out a heartbreaking draw.

Finally, well done to Good Counsel (Leinster football champs), Gorey Community School (All-Ireland camogie winners) and my old alma mater St. Peter's who bid to make the Senior colleges hurling final for the first time in 33 years.

I played that day aged five. I hope Joe O'Connor and his men bury a few ghosts for me over the coming weeks and eventually get 'Doc', Mick Byrne, Kelly and Turner off my back for that missed free.

Wexford People

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