AS RISING young Wexford star Jack Hobbs welcomes the new year, he must do so with his hurling career put on hold for at least twelve months.
It will not be a new beginning for the promising Ballygarrett player as he is awaiting the type of surgery that has struck a number of young men in the county recently.
While his team-mates have begun their preparations for the National League and provincial championship, hip injuries are now becoming a common curse in Gaelic games to go side by side with the dreaded cruciate knee ligament injury. Slow to heal and easy to damage more than once, such injuries have led to young players missing out on more than twelve months of competitive action as are afflicted by the weakness long after they are supposed to be healed despite the professional rehab available.
This has led Brendan Hobbs, father of Jack, to come out in support of Diarmuid Devereux, congratulating him and offering his full support in relation to the Co. Chairman's stance on the issue of over-use of under-age players.
As Jack awaits surgery that could define his career, his father highlights the plight which his son now finds himself in.
'Being a parent of a promising young hurler who has represented Wexford with distinction at Under-14, Under-16, Minor and last year's Leinster Under-21 winning team, he is now under the care of Dr. Pat O'Neill awaiting an appointment to go under a serious hip operation which will keep him out of competitive hurling for at least a year,' he explained.
'He (Jack) has been told that one of his hips needs surgery and the lack of mobility is like what you would expect in a 70-year-old. The cause is wear and tear from playing too much sport and not having sufficient rest periods. His doctor said it was the worse cast he'd seen of a player of that age.
'I am not blaming any one individual but the collective approach in my first hand experience over the last eight years was to keep player welfare at the bottom of the agenda. I have been present at county training sessions where young players who were carrying injuries were called aside by the manager and told that if they were not fit for the next training session they would be dropped from the panel (I have a record of the dates and training sessions involved).
'This put enormous pressure on young players to get back to training more quickly than was medically advisable and probably caused more damage in the long term.'
Brendan went on to say: 'It's every young player's dream to play with Wexford and no player wants to be dropped off the panel even if it means playing through the pain barrier'.
'Many of our best young hurlers are also good at Gaelic football and at other sports and they are also picked for their schools and college teams.
'It is refreshing to hear a senior member of the County Board bring this issue to the forefront and not just pay lip service to the problem,' Brendan added, saying that he admired Diarmuid Devereux for having the courage to take the stance that he did during the recent conflict between the county Minors and the combined colleges. 'I feel young hurlers in Wexford will prosper in the future as a result.'