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Saturday 17 November 2018

Sunday offers first chance to support county footballers

Alan Aherne
Alan Aherne

On the Line with Alan Aherne

One of the negative aspects of the earlier start to the National Leagues, and the generally compacted fixtures schedule, is the growing number of Sundays featuring the two Wexford Senior teams in action at separate venues.

In the past it was always likely that one or two clashes of this nature would occur in the course of any given campaign, but never to the same extent as this year.

It has happened twice already, with another two to come: on February 25 when the hurlers are home to Clare while the footballers are on the road to Longford, and on March 4 when Davy and his men will return to Nowlan Park once again while Paul McLoughlin's crew stay at home to take on Offaly.

Maybe it isn't feasible or desirable at this stage less than one month in advance, but surely it would benefit the footballers more if that game was played 24 hours earlier.

Let's be honest about it, Innovate Wexford Park will be virtually deserted if those games are played at the same time, but a lot of variables come into play and perhaps it was never on the agenda to seek a Saturday date instead.

For starters, Offaly would have to be willing to change, and that is probably an unlikely scenario for a game that may well be a relegation six-pointer given the way the first two rounds have panned out for both counties.

The computer matrix is deployed to determine the fixtures prior to any campaign, but surely that should be followed by a close and considered examination of what it has churned out to pinpoint clashes of this nature.

The Wexford footballers will never attract anything even remotely close to the hurlers in terms of support, but would it not be wiser - even from a financial standpoint - to play the Offaly game on the Saturday?

That would be the common sense approach, but I'm around long enough at this stage to realise that such a commodity is in short supply in the G.A.A. corridors of power.

I've spent the last two Sundays on the road covering the football games, so I won't be in the least bit sorry to be saved another seven-hour round trip followed by an immediate return to the office in order to meet tight deadlines, prior to a 5 a.m. Monday start.

In fact, the fixtures have been especially cruel to Wexford in this campaign, as they will also be travelling to Longford and Derry respectively before the middle of next month.

That represents a huge commitment on the part of everyone involved, and next Sunday the sporting faithful have a chance to show some appreciation for their efforts by getting fully behind the team at the first of just three home clashes, versus Westmeath.

With the hurling league taking a one-week break, it's an opportunity for those of you with a preference for the small ball to support another Wexford team working hard in difficult circumstances.

To be perfectly honest, I reckon this year will continue to be a struggle for a generally untried and untested group of young, green players who are making a major collective step up to the inter-county scene.

However, I have seen enough from them in recent weeks to confirm that they are extremely proud of the chance to don the purple and gold and willing to give it everything they have in the process.

For that alone, they are deserving of support, and with a home game on a rare hurling-free Sunday there really is no excuse, even if football may not be one's favoured sport.

I'd like to highlight the contribution made thus far by one of the squad's youngest players, if only to prove that not playing for a Senior club doesn't necessarily have to be an impediment to progress.

This time last year, Cathal Devereux was helping St. Peter's College on their way to the All-Ireland final, and he has scored one point and one goal respectively in two appearances off the bench to date.

What's remarkable about his tale is that he plays his club football with Our Lady's Island in the sixth and lowest grade of all - Junior 'B'.

I reckon he's unique on the current inter-county scene for that reason, but he certainly hasn't looked out of place. He's there entirely on merit, and his involvement will bring him on a tonne.

Wexford People

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