Thursday 21 September 2017

Fitzgerald's 'X-Factor' has Lee Chin believing in Model experiment

Wexford hurler Lee Chin in his Vancouver Canucks playing gear ahead of his trip to Canada for AIB’s documentary series The Toughest Trade SPORTSFILE
Wexford hurler Lee Chin in his Vancouver Canucks playing gear ahead of his trip to Canada for AIB’s documentary series The Toughest Trade SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

When the call came from Seamus McEnaney to join the Wexford footballers, Lee Chin expected it, but he respectfully declined with the dual mandate now "next to impossible" as all attentions focus on Davy Fitzgerald's hurlers.

Chin is a man in great demand on many fronts and after trying to juggle dual inter-county commitments in the past, he left his mark with Wexford Youths last winter in the soccer club's unsuccessful bid to avoid relegation from the SSE Airtricity Premier Division.

That came just weeks after he helped maintain Faythe Harriers' senior status; after scoring in the first leg of Youths' relegation play-off against Finn Harps, his subsequent decision to attend the All-Star awards instead of the return fixture raised eyebrows.

The versatile 24-year-old has made no bones about hurling being his priority but after Sunday's tie with Galway, he will jet off to Canada to sample ice hockey with the Vancouver Canucks as part of AIB's The Toughest Trade.

Barring a few spins in Wexford's Winter Wonderland over Christmas, he has no experience on the ice but his outstanding athletic ability would suggest he'll take to it like a duck to water.

All eyes are on the small ball, however, with Chin "ecstatic" when Fitzgerald was appointed as Model boss "out of the blue" - and as Sunday's comeback win over Limerick suggests, his high-profile is already bringing an "X factor" to the sunny south east.

Lee Chin considers his options with Paul Morris offering support if required
Lee Chin considers his options with Paul Morris offering support if required

"It definitely did add to our journey in terms of where we wanted to go forward. We needed somebody with a high profile and winning ways and no better man than Davy," Chin said yesterday.

"He won an All-Ireland in 2013 and he's the type of person who moved with the modern game. He's very tactical, and that's the way the game has gone. Davy was the perfect man for the job.

"But there's no promises of anything yet. We are not getting too carried away but it's just nice to know and nice to see that we are going in the right direction."

Promotion from Division 1B would be huge progress after their struggles to get back into the League's top tier and The Monkees I'm a Believer comes to mind when Chin describes the mentality instilled by Fitzgerald.

Silverware hasn't been earmarked, however, as the former Clare goalkeeper takes a leaf from Brian Cody's playbook by making principles of honesty, work-rate and commitment paramount to the Model journey.

"The first rule in achieving something is believing you can do it. Again with Davy, that is something he has really instilled in us - that we are really believing that there is something at the end of all this," Chin said.

"A lot of hard work, a lot of nights training and a lot of commitment. And again, I don't think a lot of people around Ireland would be doing anything to that extent if they didn't believe they were going to achieve something at the end.

"When a man with such passion and pride comes in and really instils belief, and you know he believes in you, you just want to repay him with a performance and give it everything you have for him - and that's definitely a factor he brings.

"He just wants to see a team fighting for each other, playing for each other and regardless of how far behind or how far ahead you are, keep going to the same game-plan and keep playing with the same pattern.

Lee Chin wheels away in triumph as Aidan Friel joins him after his injury time goal
Lee Chin wheels away in triumph as Aidan Friel joins him after his injury time goal

"I definitely think we're going to achieve something. Somewhere."

With Chin on board, as well as the Wexford public firmly in Fitzgerald's corner, anything is possible, but it won't be easy.

Irish Independent

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