Wexford hurlers displayed some good performances despite everything.
AS I walked the Summerhill Road at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday, my great friend and fellow mentor Ruairí Crawford informed me that there was a fire in the stand, and everyone had been evacuated with fire brigades in attendance.
My immediate reaction was to turn to herself and say, “I bet anything Spratt is after blowing up the stand”. On arriving however, I was relieved to hear that safety officer Aidan O’Connor had everything under control and nothing could be linked to the radio control box.
I had read some stats during the week about the huge percentage of scores secured by Lee Chin and Rory O’Connor in league and championship 2022, and when I met both in their civvies just before throw-in, it struck me how big a loss these two players are.
It must be accepted that Galway have had incredible under-age success over the past decade and have more strength in depth to make up for losses than we have at present.
There is no point glossing over the issues that came from Saturday’s game, and on the night the negatives far outweighed the positives.
Let’s not panic at the beginning of February, and I was really pleased with some of our performances. Charlie McGuckin had a fine game, chipping in with three great points, Mark Fanning was outstanding in goal and showed that old assuredness that we know he possesses, and Conor Foley was a real plus, particularly in the first-half of what was a big game for the youngster.
Damien Reck has been our outstanding player over the past year, and our best on-the-ball player against Galway, but I feel if we are playing the Oylegate man in this quarter-back type number 6 role, we need to make provisions to man-mark dangerous opponents such as Conor Whelan who for me is very often the engine of this Galway forward line.
We also created as many scoring chances as Galway, and maybe a punt on young Ross Banville would have been an option on Saturday night as free-taking was a huge differential all through.
There was also a huge gap in the goal-scoring chances created, and Galway must look at how they ended up with no major on the board. In fairness to Mark, he was quick off his line to avert danger and made a fine penalty save.
There is no doubt that had we capitalised on some of our early chances (uncharacteristic and, let’s not forget, it’s our first game) we would have held a three- or four-point lead at the interval, but I don’t concur with the opinion that it was the losing of the game.
We have to be realistic and accept that the second-half was hard watching from a Wexford point of view. Galway maximised their huge physical advantage and particularly from the introduction of Brian Concannon, they controlled the game and possibly could have run up a bigger total.
Our shape completely went about halfway through the second period and, in fairness, I wouldn’t try to judge any of our substitutes as the game and momentum were truly crippling at this point of the game.
It’s early days, but we must bounce back next weekend for what is a banana skin (need I remind you) and a re-acquaintance with Wexford man and old friend Joe Fortune. I feel we will, and I expect a victory in the midlands.
Quickly moving to the other code, I felt all through that there should be no replay of the All-Ireland Club final, but more importantly I feel it has been tough on the Dubs to have come back from last year’s gut-wrenching defeat and not have been able to enjoy their win.
Also, I’m a little bit disappointed about some of the media narrative suggesting it’s all about the big club versus the small club and referring to the wealth of the Stillorgan men.
I know a number of Crokes people and they are great GAA volunteers like in any club who have done a fantastic job in establishing hurling and football as the games of choice for young people in an area traditionally linked to other sports. We are fortunate to have clubs like Crokes in Dublin.
Also, there has been advice given by well-known personalities to the GAA to cover the security cost of 500k for the Katie Taylor fight which will now probably never happen.
To suggest that the GAA concede on this, and not let that money filter down to clubs and youth and instead be pocketed by Eddie Hearn is beyond belief. Give me strength.
Finally, well done to Buffers Alley clubwoman Mary Foley on being a recipient of the President’s award. She is a true volunteer in every way and it was so well deserved.