Wexford dispose of Antrim
IT WAS a case of job done and no more than that on Saturday as Wexford disposed of Antrim with relative ease to set up a local derby meeting with John Meyler's Carlow on Saturday next.
The game was pretty uneventful and staggered to an inevitable conclusion despite an Antrim comeback of sorts midway through the second-half. Liam Dunne will appreciate that considerable improvement will be needed to meet the challenges ahead, and the lack of concentration which coincided with the Antrim rally can't be repeated if we are to progress further.
On a positive note the defending of Mossy Waters and Eoin Moore continues to impress with Ciarán Kenny showing an ambition to engage in ground hurling which is a skill that has become a rarity in the modern game. Up front Garrett Sinnott continues to lead with an impressive four-point tally and Rory Jacob exemplified his current sharpness with a brilliant ground stroke goal which effectively took any serious momentum from the Antrim challenge.
Antrim man Neil McManus gave further notice to all present of his capabilities and landed a few massive points during the course of the game, keeping his side in touch. It was also good to see young Michael O'Regan make his championship debut, giving further options to the Wexford management in the centre of defence.
Carlow are next up and we need no reminding of John Meyler's managerial capabilities and also his motivation to beat a county after the controversial way in which he was relieved of his post a few years back. Carlow put us to the pin of our collar in the league and but for a missed goal opportunity with eight minutes to go could have taken the points, so anyone expecting anything easy would need to think again.
We have two watershed battles coming up with our neighbours over the next week which will shape the success of our year so we can't afford slip-ups. However, I have stated before that I believe this Wexford team has shown considerable improvement over the past twelve months and Dublin's good showing against the Cats last weekend gives further credence to my belief. Direct hurling and fast ball to the forwards is a must if we are to continue our progress, and we must cut out the unnecessary passing when the opportunity to clear quickly arises.
For anyone who knew the Minor hurling scene in Leinster it was well apparent that Laois provided a significant threat and so it proved. From all accounts the lads didn't hurl to their potential and that can happen with a young team. My sympathies go to all involved because I know a huge amount of work was put in by both players and management alike and the year should not be seen as a failure because of one bad day.
From speaking to some of the players involved they will be much the better from experiencing such a set-up and we will see a number of these young men compete at Under-21 and adult levels going forward. Speaking from experience I know how devastating a loss like this can be for management and I hope it does not affect the enthusiasm of Willie Cleary and his backroom team, and given that we had a very young team on view we can have a bright future in this grade.
Finally, the Sycamore Inn is a place where heated debate can often occur with regard to matters G.A.A. and so it proved on Sunday evening last. A debate broke out in relation to the disappearance of fielding in the modern big ball game and this quickly developed into who was the best man in history to go to the clouds and fetch a football.
As you can imagine there were a lot of educated opinions given with Mick O'Connell and Jack O'Shea mentioned as well as our own George O'Connor and Mick Carty. As the battle raged, local legendary custodian of the Glynn-Barntown goal, Lorcan Doyle, interjected (as he couldn't listen to any more uneducated comment) that his great grand uncle 'Tearing Tom' Doyle of the Wexford four-in-a-row team from 1914 to 1918 was the greatest fielder in history.
On being pointed out to Lorcan that he had never seen 'Tearing Tom' play, Lorcan proceeded to tell a story which emphasised his point. His uncle was playing in a club game many years ago and was completely dominating the opposition in the aerial stakes.
At half-time a small, hardy type of substitute was sent out on Tom with the explicit instruction to take the great man out of the game.
The first high ball landed in the second-half and 'Tearing Tom' again went to the heavens to grab the leather. His marker saw the opportunity and hit Tom as hard as he could somewhere between his belly button and his knee, fully believing that his action would have the desired outcome.
Tom looked down from the sky and said 'you better be gone by the time I come down'.
Game set and match to the Doyles.