independent

Friday 15 December 2017

Key forwards doubtful

Injury worries for Mythen and O’Connor before SH final

Brendan Furlong

Des Mythen of Oulart-The Ballagh applies pressure on Conor Firman (St. Martin's) in their last final meeting two years ago
Des Mythen of Oulart-The Ballagh applies pressure on Conor Firman (St. Martin's) in their last final meeting two years ago

The absence of either Rory O'Connor or Des Mythen could be a potential game-changer when the reigning champions, Oulart-The Ballagh, and St. Martin's meet in the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship final in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday (3.30 p.m.).

Mythen helped orchestrate his side's victory over Enniscorthy Rappares in the semi-final with five points from play, in one of his best games for some time, as he teased and tormented the opposing defence into eventual submission.

But it all changed towards the end of that game when the wily and experienced half-forward was forced to retire with a knee injury.

Apparently Mythen suffered a twist to his knee which is now the cause of huge concern to the backroom team.

Having undergone a scan for potential cartilage trouble, Mythen was unable to train in the week following the semi-final, and did not participate in training over the weekend, leaving the management concerned as to his fitness for the big game.

While Mythen is a concern for the reigning champions, St. Martin's also have their own problems, since an injury forced star attacker Rory O'Connor to sit out last Sunday's Senior football semi-final replay victory over Shelmaliers.

O'Connor joined his colleagues on the substitutes' bench but the backroom were not prepared to risk their outstanding young talent, for fear of him missing out on the showpiece of Wexford hurling. O'Connor is in a push against time to recover from a knee injury.

The tension is beginning to build up in the run-in to the big clash, so there will be lots of mind games over the coming days as the respective sides try to gain an extra edge, but when all is said and done it will come down to what happens during the 60 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

Both sides have focused their games around the outstanding attacking talents of these two players.

And they showing why so much depends on them given their outstanding semi-final displays, with O'Connor almost single-handedly demolishing the Naomh Eanna challenge, showing his importance to his side's bid to dethrone the reigning champions.

St. Martin's will not fear Oulart-The Ballagh, having already recorded an opening round victory over the titleholders.

Oulart-The Ballagh, on the other hand, will bring lots of experience into this game, but the one fear is that this could be a step too far for a group of players at the helm of Wexford hurling for so long.

They are still a side to be feared, but they seem unable to maintain a dominance that has created past victories.

In recent games they have faded for periods, something that a side with the calibre of player that St. Martin's contain will take full advantage of.

A boost for Oulart-The Ballagh is that inter-county centre-back Shaun Murphy has recovered from a dead leg received during the semi-final, and will take the central defensive role.

But right now all the talk will be about the fitness concerns relating to O'Connor and Mythen, two players who can influence the eventual result should they be available. St. Martin's have no further injury concerns following the football semi-final replay.

That said, let's hope for a large attendance, given only 2,000 attended the football double-header last Sunday, while less than 5,000 paid in to both Senior hurling semi-finals.

Wexford People

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