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Friday 23 August 2019

Tom Dempsey's Hurling Analysis

It's natural for fans to feel deflated, but all is not lost

Tom Dempsey

As I winged my way towards the capital on Sunday morning to attend the Dublin versus Galway Division 1A game, I was less than impressed with the decision-makers in RTE Radio who had deemed Parnell Park my home for the next few hours.

I was constantly distracted by my interest in events at home despite the top-class fare being served up by two of Leinster's major contenders.

My first port of call was the Craobh Chiaráin clubhouse which is situated at the back of the Dublin G.A.A. home to see if Liverpool could close the gap on their fiercest rivals.

Sadly however (a little like the hurling result), things didn't go to plan with a less than glorious exit for Steven Gerrard (the greatest player in Premiership history) in his last game against the old enemy.

As the afternoon progressed the word from Wexford Park was becoming increasingly gloomy, with Waterford dominating events almost from the off and being fully deserving of their six-point victory.

Derek McGrath has done a wonderful job integrating the best of the old with the emerging talent in Waterford and nobody can doubt that they have been the form team of the division, and as I warned last week they were a much more formidable threat than they were last summer.

I watched a recording of the game on Sunday evening and was struck by the intensity of the Deise effort. They hunted in packs and if a game can be judged by the basics of blocking and hooking there could be only one winner.

Their half-back line of Tadhg De Búrca, Philip Mahony and Austin Gleeson were superb and with Páuric Mahony radar-like from placed balls, Wexford's free count concession was always going to leave them in an impossible situation.

Although the huge Wexford following (we have the most loyal support in the country, although Seamus Cullimore was in Parnell Park) left the ground a little deflated, I feel all is not lost and our performance on the day is not a good reflection of where we sit at present.

We performed far below our capabilities but the beauty of the present league system is that we almost immediately have an opportunity to make things right with an imminent tie against Cork.

Again we must be warned that things are likely to even more difficult against the in-form Rebels (despite their incredible achievement of squandering a twelve-point lead last time out) and things won't just self rectify.

We seemed particularly nervous all through the Waterford game and need to work hard on our discipline in the tackle as well as cutting out some basic errors.

A number of times I feel that a better option is to be more direct and unless a goal chance is on we should be popping the ball over when inside the 45-metre line.

It doesn't cheer me up to say it, but when defending we need to get more men behind the ball and close down space (it's a part of the modern game now whether we like it or not) and this will be particularly important when dealing with the mobile threat of the Cork attack.

We had some good performances with Mark Fanning, Matthew O'Hanlon and Liam Ryan striving manfully at the back along with Lee Chin and Dee O'Keeffe further up field.

Liam Dunne and his backroom team have done a tremendous job over the past few years and the players have been admirable in their dedication.

They are now entering an era where expectation levels have heightened and we are expected to live with the top teams.

A result against Cork would leave a semi-final with Dublin or Limerick. It's not an impossible task with the best team in Ireland, Kilkenny, out of the frame, so let's be positive and believe.

Up Wexford.

Wexford People

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