Friday 22 September 2017

Wexford make case for Galway being kept at bay

Dual status of most Model clubs the main issue to opposing Tribe's full Leinster status

Galway’s Joe Cooney is tackled by a posse of Wexford defenders during a 2011 league clash in Pearse Stadium, but the Model hurlers will not be travelling west to play them in the Leinster championship. Photo: Sportsfile
Galway’s Joe Cooney is tackled by a posse of Wexford defenders during a 2011 league clash in Pearse Stadium, but the Model hurlers will not be travelling west to play them in the Leinster championship. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

There is no appetite in Wexford to cede full provincial status to the Galway hurlers, according to their outgoing County Board chairman Diarmuid Devereux and the county's former All-Ireland-winning manager Liam Griffin.

As Galway club Liam Mellows table a motion to their convention seeking clearance to apply to the Munster Council for inclusion in all their competitions if facility for home matches and entry to minor and U-21 competitions isn't granted by Leinster, Devereux and Griffin made the case as to why Wexford will continue to oppose the request.

Griffin feels that Wexford are one of the few true dual counties where the balance between the majority of clubs is almost equal and that their hurling teams have struggled because of this approach.

"Galway have a lot of traditionally strong hurling clubs that only play hurling," he pointed out.

"Wexford are trying to do the right thing by the GAA," he added. "We're trying to do it the best we can whereas other counties all over the country are not even making an effort.

"We have more dual clubs than anyone. Glynn-Barntown were beaten in the county hurling semi-final by Oulart and the following week they played the county senior football final. What other county has that type of mix?" he asked. "There are no credits for doing that, just ridicule for not winning all these things.

"There is a residual feeling, it's not that there is anything against Galway per se, but it's a combination of a lot of things that if we give up this at underage level, look what it has done for us at senior level. Wexford are better off for reaching Leinster finals."

Contested

Wexford have not been in a provincial final since Galway were permitted into the Leinster hurling championship in 2009. In that time the Tribesmen have contested five finals.

"There has always been a grating with people that a Connacht team would be Leinster champions," said Griffin. "While it has been acceptable for senior, I can see at the developmental stage where fellas are trying to develop minor and U-21 teams where Galway have had very strong teams, that it could eliminate a chance of getting to or winning a Leinster final. That would be seen as a negative by people. The counter-argument is 'if you're good enough you're good enough, if you're not you're not.' But that's not the point. They're good enough to get to a Leinster final (at underage level) in hurling.

"If somebody is coming in to prevent you going to that next level, and while you might say that's a charter for losers, well then some Wexford fellas would say, 'How many clubs and counties are out there not doing what we're trying to do.'

"We're trying to foster both games equally. Tell me where is the credit side for us in that? It's all debit. That's the way it's seen. I'm not saying it is absolutely correct, I'm not suggesting that if Wexford were a little bit stronger they might view it a bit differently.

"But I think that's why it's viewed like that and you can understand the rationale behind it. It's not totally illogical or not totally unreasonable even though to a Galway man, of course it is."

Griffin said the logic of opposition from Wexford and other counties was based on Galway's strength at underage level with a near comparable record to Kilkenny since they last won an All-Ireland title in 1988.

"Now you want to take someone with a record that doesn't compare and take them out and send them to Galway and say, 'We want you to vote in favour of that'. And it's most unlikely that they would.

"It puts Wexford at a disadvantage that's not a positive from their point of view, even though it might be a positive from the game," said Griffin, adding that plenty of decisions that might be good for the game have been reversed like preventing combined colleges from winning an All-Ireland title.

"I'm giving the reasons why. In fairness to Wexford, they are entitled to make the point, they are entitled to have the reasons debated, based on facts, not emotion."

Devereux also pointed to the strong dual status of clubs in Wexford, stating that of 49 there are only a small number who don't play both codes. "Nobody has ever sat down and defined what a real dual county is but we really are one. We are so dual you could hardly tell the difference. We give the exact same funding to our senior football team as we do to our senior hurling team."

Leinster counties again reiterated at Wednesday night's meeting that they would be opposed to Galway's request while Leinster chairman John Horan echoed director-general Páraic Duffy's view that it is a national issue when he spoke at yesterday's announcement that Top Oil will sponsor Leinster Post-Primary Schools competitions.

Irish Independent

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