Saturday 18 November 2017

Home tie against glamour team is what we wanted

Championship Special

Billy Dodd's Football Analysis

Billy Dodd
Billy Dodd

Two weeks ago I wrote a very tentative preview for the Wexford game away to Limerick in the first round of the qualifiers.

I honestly did not know how the team would perform based on recent experiences.

What I never doubted was the spirit ingrained in this squad over the last few years, and they battled bravely to achieve their goal, a victory after a run of four defeats in league and championship.

I did say they have been in similar positions before over the years and have responded well, so the outcome was no surprise and was a welcome boost.

They now have exactly what we were hoping for, which is a home tie against one of the glamour teams.

Monaghan boast a team packed with talent and experience, winning two Ulster titles in the last four years, and just to add spice to the game it's our own manager's home county.

They will be reeling after the shock defeat of the year so far to Down in their last game.

After beating their opponents by 19 points this time last season, I'd say they were slightly distracted by the thoughts of another Ulster final against Tyrone rather than an unlikely qualifier trip to the sunny south-east.

In the best game of the year so far, Monaghan lost by two points so unfortunately for us they will be primed for a big performance to get their season back on track.

Teams in their position are dangerous opponents as they set out to atone for a performance that they were so disappointed with in the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.

The Farney men have talent in abundance and it will be great to see players of the calibre of defenders Vinny Corey, Drew and Ryan Wylie, midfielder Kieran Hughes, Jack McCarron and one of the best forwards in the country, Conor McManus.

To have any chance of winning Wexford need a memorable performance similar to the brilliant home win against Down in 2015 at the same stage of the championship.

At least ten of the current panel played that night so they know the intensity that the Ulster players will bring to the game.

Monaghan have to be favourites based on recent form but as I said before this Wexford team never lacks spirit and desire and there is another big performance in them. Hopefully it will come next Saturday afternoon.

I watched the Lions match last Saturday morning, and I was engrossed in the battle as young Tadhg Furlong yet again showed maturity beyond his years to proudly represent his county and country brilliantly on the world stage.

What I admired most was an interview with All Blacks captain Kieran Read almost immediately after the game ended.

So soon after a game managers and players are vulnerable, emotional and susceptible to over-reaction or in some cases an instant form of verbal diarrhoea.

In most sports the blame will be firmly laid on the referee, the conditions, player error, the free-taker; the list is extensive and familiar to us all.

Read showed the dignity which is ingrained in the All Blacks team culture by simply saying the Lions were the better team on the day and they had no excuses.

It was a touch of class from such a great player and leader, even if he didn't mean it because it wasn't true.

I just thought that a lot of other sports, especially G.A.A. and soccer, could learn from his behaviour and be a bit more dignified in defeat. I very much doubt we will see similar humility and dignity in the months to come.

I can guarantee one thing though, Read and his All Blacks team-mates will give their real response next Saturday morning.

Wexford People

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