Sunday 22 September 2019

Cork at home the best draw so let's make most of it

Tom Dempsey's hurling analysis

Before I try to examine the process of picking up the pieces and how best to meet the Leeside challenge, I think a few congratulations are in order.

Firstly, the way our county along with a couple of neighbours rose to make the football Féile such a wonderful success is a great reflection on the hard-working officials within our clubs and County Board.

The G.A.A. is too often an unfair target for criticism and I feel the overall good being achieved in the service provided to the youth of our country is seriously underestimated by some detractors who quite simply have no concept of the work put in by the many volunteers within the organisation.

A number of visitors commented on the wonderful facilities in Wexford and I think it is an opportune time to say well done to the people who had the vision and conviction to put them there. Well done to all on a wonderful weekend.

Our Senior footballers had a terrific win over Down and our ladies signalled an intention to return to the glory years with a comprehensive win in Offaly.

J.J. Doyle is continuing an incredible run of success with a good Under-21 win in Tullamore in a game which has catapulted young Kevin Foley into serious contention for a starting place next Saturday evening.

Both our goals had class stamped all over them with Conor McDonald playing a major role in both. The first was a superb team goal inspired by a wonderful catch from Liam Ryan at full-back, and the second was expertly finished by Cathal Dunbar after a flick of genius from the aforementioned McDonald.

We can look forward to the visit of Kilkenny with optimism and hope that a lot of confidence will be restored to the Under-21 players who hit the Park on Saturday evening.

It will take a marked turnaround in performance from Sunday week if we are to put Cork to the sword this weekend. One of the criticisms (of which there are many) of my articles is that I annoy people with positivity but I really feel that J.B.M's team at home is the best draw Wexford could have hoped for.

There will be a backlash in Clare (whom I feel will still play a role in the destination of Liam), I am not over-anxious to see Limerick too quickly after Thurles last year, and the only thing that Laois could bring to the Wexford table is pressure.

Cork themselves are going through an unsettled period and, having watched them live twice recently, have impressed me less than the other major contenders.

So in essence I would make them favourites for Saturday night but by no means unbeatable.

They have a number of forwards who can hurt any opposition and the return of Seamus Harnedy is a boost, but at the other end of the field they are vulnerable and the loss of Shane O'Neill should signal further opportunity.

That said, the onus is on this Wexford team to completely rehabilitate itself from the Kilkenny game if we are to have any chance. I would feel we need to consolidate our team back to the normal defensive formation and I believe a three-man full-forward line with direct ball is worth considering, particularly in the early stages. Obviously wind factor etc. would have to be considered when planning tactically.

In the good old days (I joke of course as they weren't always good) when you lost a championship game, you had a whole year to think and listen about it.

This Wexford team is decidedly fortunate that it has a second chance to prove what they are really made of.

Once they step inside that white line it is up to the players. There is talent in their ranks but performance on Saturday evening will be very much about a display of resolve and character.

Anything short of this will lead to a very long winter.

Wexford People

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