MY SATURDAY afternoon started by collecting the “Two Billys” (Walsh and Dodd) who, although not to be mistaken for the “Two Johnnies,” are equally as entertaining.
Our trip to the Marble City was enjoyable, punctuated by expert opinion on football, boxing and of course hurling amongst other things.
The road home contained only one subject, namely why the small ball game is Wexford’s greatest love as we gloried in one of the gutsiest performances in the purple and gold’s recent history.
I had asked the county’s greatest son (Walsh, not Dodd), who has been helping Wexford preparations, could we get a result in the most difficult of places and his confidence was disarming.
To win, he told me, we need to “simplify, intensify and then crucify”, and in truth if you examine our performance that is exactly what happened.
I think most would agree that hurling is not rocket science and there was a definite need to simplify our game and go back to the basics.
We played directly and an example of this was Oisín Foley’s goal which came as a result of a long Mark Fanning delivery.
We mixed up our game, playing short when necessary but also going long while trusting that Rory O and the outstanding Lee Chin were able to contest and win their own ball.
Our intensity levels were unrecognisable from previous games, winning most individual battles from the tenth minute on.
The crucify (a strong word for a sporting battle; execution might suffice) came in the form of a six scores to two domination in the last ten or so minutes.
I am a huge advocate of Wexford fans keeping their feet on the ground and, as exciting as this victory was, we must maintain our hopes and emotions on an even keel.
It is the greatest tribute I can pay to Brian Cody’s men that it is always an incredible feeling to turn them over, because they are and always will be the barometer on how hurling is judged and have always worn the title of “home of hurling” in a gracious and humble manner.
We also must recognise that this victory, although serving to keep us alive, has changed little for the Cats as they defend their Leinster title in a few weeks.
In short, Kilkenny will not be going away and congratulations to them on their outstanding Under-20 victory against a fancied Limerick team.
In truth, we fully merited our victory and after a severe test of character (five down, playing with the wind, after eleven minutes), we were the better team with incredible performances all round.
Damien Reck was again outstanding and despite being slightly fortunate initially, his presence of mind and skill to secure possession in Kilkenny’s most dangerous attack was for me the highlight moment of the year to date.
Liam Ryan (and his point), Matthew O’Hanlon, Paudie Foley (my man of the match, sorry Lee) were top class in defence, but in truth everyone played their part.
When we initially found trouble, Dee was on another planet along with his trusty comrade Liam Óg, and up front Rory and Lee led a hungry forward division.
Now to Lee Chin. The Harriers man is without peer as a leader, and again when the chips were down, he delivered the goods.
The timing and use of our subs was spot on, with Mikie Dwyer’s point being worth the admission money alone (even though I did not pay to go in).
Connal Flood continues to impress, with Cathal Dunbar’s last score vital (for all our hearts), and Charlie McGuckin getting in a breathtaking dispossession as well as linking well.
Kilkenny were uncharacteristically short of variation in their attacking game in the last ten minutes, launching high ball after high ball into a grateful and hungry Wexford rearguard.
I was also a little happier to see Pádraig Walsh, Conor Browne, Conor Fogarty and Cillian Buckley amongst others in the black and amber dug-out at the start.
So, the summer continues and well done to all concerned, but let us keep our feet on the ground as, don’t forget, if we did a graph on emotion, last week and this week would contain a long dividing line.
Finally, the disciplinary committee are reviewing Barry Goff’s team’s victory in the Féile table quiz on Friday night regarding numbers on the team, and he will be notified in writing as to the decision.
I’m not sure what sanctions are to be imposed, as he kindly donated the winning prize to the Féile fund, but Willie Carley has demanded the inquiry.
I will keep you updated but, in the meantime, up Wexford. What a week.