Sunday 17 December 2017

Wexford gathering momentum under charismatic boss

Tom Dempsey's Hurling Analysis

Tom Dempsey
Tom Dempsey

Sometime around 15 minutes into the second-half of Sunday's game there was an excitement in Wexford Park that said, although silverware may still be a little away, Wexford hurling is gathering an incredible momentum under their charismatic manager Davy Fitz.

We had the wind, the crowd were willing the team ón, and the men on the field were hurling and delivering with the passion that has been a hallmark of Wexford hurling over the years.

All we needed to execute the win that would place us in contention for the rest of the league was a little luck and somebody to step up with the killer blow.

Thankfully we got both, with young Gorey man Conor McDonald once again latching on to a monster-like puck from Mark Fanning after a Podge Doran break to score the goal that would ultimately separate the sides at the finish.

I loved this goal for many reasons. Principally because I am of the traditional view that direct and quick ball to the forwards cause more angst in a defence than any other, and I have stood (and I mean stood) around squares long enough in my time to have a feel for that.

The benefit of physical presence is also a factor that can unsettle defences, and it also emphasised to me that when the situation calls for it Wexford have the ability and will use the strategy when required.

The element of let's say 'rub of the green' went our way also with a number of the Limerick fraternity in the press box quite irate at some of Diarmaid Kirwan's decisions, particularly in the second-half.

John Kiely vented frustration after the game and in fairness the non-awarding of what should have been a penalty in the second-half could have had a big impact on the game.

When I say could, I mean that given the form of Mark Fanning in the goal there was a reasonable chance it could have been saved as the young Glynn-Barntown man gave an exhibition of goalkeeping excellence all through.

Over the years Wexford have had their share of injustices (the 67-minute Leinster final of 1984, D.J's 26 steps, I could fill the paper but let's not look back), and overall I feel given their application on the day our men deserved to come out on top. But let's just say no county is better positioned to feel Limerick's pain.

Our sideline had an excellent day with the slight change in tactical approach in the second-half being spot ón, and substitutes Harry Kehoe and Podge Doran contributing handsomely.

The application from goalkeeper right up the field was top class, with Eoin Moore, Liam Ryan, Shaun Murphy and Diarmaid O'Keeffe marshalling splendidly at the back. All I can say about Shaun is that he must be using duracell given the ground he covers.

Young Aaron Maadock has settled in nicely and I would see his substitution more to do with a tactical ploy with the wind stategy than performance-related. Barry Carton settled in well, particularly in the second-half.

Conor Mac was again excellent along with Aidan Nolan. Lee Chin came into his own when moved centrally and closed out the game with two excellent points.

My final comment in relation to the atmosphere in Wexford Park is that it is a poor reflection on the league structure that Limerick will be the only marquee fixture in the ground (with all due respect to Kerry and Laois) until possibly (and only possibly) the summer.

As I left the arena on Sunday there was a large group of youngsters head to toe in Wexford colours having great banter with the passing motorists. It's this type of atmosphere and excitement in a town that promotes the game. Wake up headquarters, something has to be done to bring big games to the park.

Finally it's out of the frying pan and into the fire with the toughest of assignments in Galway next week. I would have preferred a lesser fixture but no matter what happens now promotion will be possible right up to the last game.

Up Wexford.

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