Monday 20 November 2017

Mixed results over a roller-coaster five cold days of action

On the line with Alan Aherne

Alan Aherne
Alan Aherne

The month of March was heralded in with a roller-coaster of sporting action in the space of five days.

It started with Under-21 football on Wednesday in Enniscorthy, with a brief respite of one night followed by Wexford Youths' big debut in Ferrycarrig Park on Friday, the Senior footballers' narrow win in Dungarvan on Saturday, and the hurlers' runaway victory in Tralee on Sunday.

I succumbed to the inevitable in the hours after attending an Arctic-like St. Patrick's Park on Wednesday, picking up my first head cold and sore throat of the year despite sporting five layers of upper body clothing protection.

The only surprise really was that it took so long; perhaps it's just a sign that I'm getting old but, speaking as one who regularly spends time in the great outdoors on sidelines and in stands, it would appear to me that the weather of the past five months has been harsher than at any previous time in my living memory.

Let's deal with those four games one by one. Firstly, the Under-21 football was definitely one that slipped away, and I felt we should have gone for broke with the wind behind us in the second-half and pumped a few more long balls into the full-forward line just to see what might happen.

After all, the winning Westmeath goal came from one such effort which led to a lucky break for them in front of the posts. I think there's an ever-present danger that a gameplan can become an obsession, and that if it's drilled into players to retain possession at all costs, sometimes it leaves them with a fear of trying something different.

On to the action in Newcastle, Crossabeg, then two nights later, where I increased my layer-count from five to six. Youths didn't deserve to lose 2-0 on the balance of play, but isn't that a comment that can be attributed to so many football games?

Longford Town were clinical with the chances that came their way, but Shane Keegan and his men will learn from the defeat I'm sure. Let's not forget that this was the first step on a journey so many people are looking forward to, although I was disappointed that the attendance didn't better the one thousand mark for this long-awaited opener.

Fair enough, the weather and the opposition didn't help, but I firmly believe that the team and the club deserve better support from the local soccer fraternity. Hopefully it will come when some of the big guns visit Wexford over the coming weeks and months.

Saturday saw the Senior footballers make life harder for themselves than necessary, but two positives should be highlighted. First of all, it was important to bounce back quickly from the Under-21 disappointment, particularly with so many players featuring on both squads.

Secondly, it's a good sign of the team that they have battled it out in two tight finishes now and got the verdict by the minimum margin against both Leitrim and Waterford. Games like that will harden the resolve of the new players in particular, and that's exactly what they need.

Finally, the hurlers were in a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' position on Sunday. Their big win was greeted in some quarters by a 'what would you expect, sure it was only Kerry' attitude.

However, those very same people would be queueing up to knock the players and management if they had shipped a third defeat.

Given that the hurlers get a very hard time when they lose, I think it's only riight and proper to acknowledge that they did their job very well on this occasion.

Let's have more of the same now please at home to Offaly and away to Laois, and see where that will take us.

Don't forget that people were starting to talk up this Kerry team after their first two performances. How many of you remember Public Enemy, the ground-breaking hip hop group from the 1980s?

I was reminded of the title of their breakthrough hit when thinking about Kerry on the journey home from Tralee. It was called 'Don't Believe The Hype' and it certainly sums up the Kingdom men for me anyway after watching them in action.

Apologies for the musical intervention in a sports column; clearly the combination of Paracetamol and Strepsils is going to my head.

Wexford People

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