Tuesday 20 August 2019

When it comes to loyalty, Wexford followers are tops

Tom Dempsey
Tom Dempsey
J J Doyle

Tom Dempsey's hurling analysis

If the last week contained a rollercoaster of emotions for Wexford hurling people, it certainly confirmed for me that the purple and gold supporters have no equals when it comes to loyalty.

This was surely confirmed when nearly 8,000 hardy souls turned up to Innovate Wexford Park to support J.J. Doyle's wonderful Under-21 team on Wednesday night, having suffered the heartbreak of the Senior team's championship exit just a few days earlier.

The only criticism I would level is that we should put a little perspective on results and not over-react whether in victory or defeat, but that's a symptom in most counties, and the feeling in Wexford Park looking down at the sea of purple and gold after our demolition of the Cats is the highlight of my year so far.

The Senior defeat was disappointing, with a lot being made of the decision to play against the wind in the first period.

Whatever effects decisions such as this have, the inescapable fact is that Cork were a better team on the night and deserved their victory.

I am not going to re-hash the game itself but in retrospect I think the likes of Conor Mc and Liam Og would probably benefit from a three-man full-forward line in the main and more direct ball, but having sat in the managerial chair for brief periods I appreciate how difficult it is at this level.

If we maintain the work levels the tide will eventually turn.

What I am sure of, however, is the feeling all those players had on Sunday morning and the lump that lodges in your belly after putting in such an effort can sit there for quite a period afterwards.

I was that soldier and the only thing I can say is, when you are brave enough to put your head on the block, one of two things can happen.

After last year's heroics, our performances in both championship matches have been disappointing but on the flip side a third of this team are under the age of 21 and the experience will stand them in good stead along with the character shown to bounce back within a couple of days.

We can still move forward with a good core of the elder statesmen (and they are not too old either), and also need to remember that the Senior set-up were prominent in the formation of a number of our -21s over the winter.

Some of the hurling provided by Jack O'Connor, Conor Mc, James Cash, Andrew Kenny (too many to mention) was inspirational on Wednesday and, keeping to a Buffers Alley theme, Oliver O'Leary's goalkeeping intervention in the early stages was vital to the win.

J.J. (below) has an incredible record and the road ahead will be tough (Waterford, Clare, Limerick, Tipp, Galway and yes, Antrim), but an All-Ireland at this grade is achievable and would be an incredible boost to the county.

Well done to all the lads for the way they signed autographs and conducted themselves after the game, and to their backroom team who have built an incredible group of ambassadors for Wexford hurling.

Finally, I attended the Patron in Kilmuckridge on Sunday and met an old friend who was sporting a new beard.

He is blaming it on the water charges and although my column is non-political I feel these issues need to be highlighted.

Wexford People

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