Saturday 21 April 2018

One and a half out of two ain't bad

A WIN and a draw on an unbeaten weekend: the song says two out of three ain't bad and the same can be said about one and a half out of two if you happen to be a Wexford follower!

Certainly I would have taken one victory plus a share of the spoils prior to the action, regardless of which code the results were achieved in.

I guess that the hurling draw was more of a pleasant surprise than the football success which was always going to be a real possibility.

However, one could argue that Saturday's outcome was a bonus because there were those who feared that we wouldn't live with the Dubs.

And that camp probably grew in numbers as the favourites raced into an early 0-6 to 0-1 lead given that this was the very thing we didn't want. The fear was that Anthony Daly's charges would go on to dictate proceedings in a repeat of the league encounter.

So to come from that five-point deficit to earn a second chance has to be seen as welcome progress. Someone asked me about an hour after the final whistle to sum the game up in eight words and my immediate reply was 'could have won it, could have lost it'.

Yes, it was scrappy at times and yes, some of the decision-making was poor, but I think the evidence on Saturday suggests that supporters have at least re-discovered a team that is worth following and a group of players who are passionate about what they are doing. They've a long way to go and there's no guarantees that the replay will be as favourable, but they are definitely moving in the right direction and they deserve our commendation for that after some seriously lean years.

Wexford Park was a picture of colour and the passion was infectious. It was wonderful to host a game of this stature and when I watched the game at home again afterwards I was particularly taken by the stunning backdrop provided by the harbour every time a replay was shown of a high ball arrowing towards the town end goal.

The only downside for me was the inadequacy of the PA system which is an ongoing issue. I found it very difficult to hear Pat Murphy's announcements even though I was seated in the back row of the stand on the 40-metre line very close to the press box, and people on the far side confirmed to me afterwards that they couldn't hear him at all. After twelve years it's high time this problem was solved, whatever it takes.

The weekend got even better for the much smaller Wexford following who travelled to Drogheda as the balmy weather continued. I've said it before in this column but I'll say it again: Daithí Waters is a man mountain in the middle of the field and there's not too many better than him in Ireland at the moment. What a marvellous display he gave before succumbing to injury, a real treat to watch on a great day for our footballers.

I'm particularly pleased for Aidan O'Brien and his fellow mentors. Maybe most of the national media and, more to the point, some of our own Johnny come lately supporters, will now realise that there was, and continues to be, life in Wexford before and after Jason Ryan.

Eight years ago we contested a Division 1 league final under Pat Roe who never got credit for the strides he made, and a result like Sunday's is proof positive that life has moved on satisfactorily under our new manager who is a shrewd operator preferring to adopt a low profile.

In that respect he's a different individual entirely to Liam Dunne whose comments elsewhere in this edition will have some of the G.A.A. suits inside and outside the county fuming.

It's all about results at the end of the day though and regardless of the sideshows, that is ultimately what both managers will be judged on by Wexford supporters.

That's the bottom line so hopefully the hurlers can finish off the Dublin job now in Parnell Park on Saturday.

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