Fixtures clash with camogie will divide club’s support
As two of the top hurling clubs go head to head, St. Martin's will need to work a piece of magic if a couple of their outstanding players are to be fit for next Sunday's AIB Leinster Senior semi-final clash with Cuala in Parnell Park (2 p.m.).
As the newly-crowned Wexford champions look ahead to their biggest game for some time, they may have to plan without the services of their star young attacker, Rory O'Connor, along with his first cousin and full-back Patrick O'Connor, with both players rated as extremely doubtful for the game.
Nineteen-year-old Rory played through the pain barrier in both Senior finals, carrying an injury to the menisci in his right knee, the thin fibrous cartilages between the surfaces of some joints. He has been ordered to rest for eight to ten weeks for fear of creating a cruciate problem.
He is joined on the injury list by Patrick O'Connorwho made the full-back berth his own during the championship campaign, capping it with a fine final performance despite being pitted against Garrett Sinnott. Suffering from a bulging disc in his back, he has been unable to train in preparation for the game.
While the loss of one or both players would be a huge blow, St. Martin's remain optimistic that they may yet be available.
Club Chairman, Mick Morrissey, said on Monday: 'Both players are extremely doubtful but we remain optimistic. It will be a race against time but we have not yet given up on the two players.'
While not casting the blame game towards anyone, Morrissey feels the number of games played by this group are catching up.
'Rory played 20 championship games in 14 weeks, Senior hurling and football along with Under-21 hurling. We have an issue with chaps playing 20 matches in 14 weeks.
'While we as a club had a lovely evening last Saturday, the feast of St. Martin where we had eight cups on display in the church for Mass for deceased members celebrated by Fr. John O'Reilly, the number of games is still a big issue.
'While it's a sad situation to be in it's still a great one,' Morrissey added.
The club is also hit by an unfortunate clash of fixtures which will divide support in the parish as the Senior camogie players figure in their first provincial final at Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow, on Sunday at 2.30 m.
'There's nothing we could do,' Morrissey said. 'I will miss my daughter playing in the Leinster final, having to attend Parnell Park, but with the Intermediate camogie final part of a double-header they were not for change. It's unfortunate, but we have to go with it, but a double victory would help ease the pain.'
Morrissey is in no doubt that St. Martin's are heading into the lion's den against the Leinster and All-Ireland champions.
'When they won the All-Ireland on St. Patrick's Day they put away the gear for six to eight weeks. They may have struggled in earlier championship games but they are peaking right now. They will be hitting form at the opportune time as one could see against Dicksboro.
'But having said that, we are capable of putting it up to them even should Rory be missing. We can match them for speed and hurling but we are coming up against an experienced team, although sport can throw up strange results. Look at Rathnew, everyone thought St. Vincent's were invincible.
'While we have an issue with the number of games the chaps are being asked to play, it's probably part of our own making, as we give football the respect it deserves which is what the County Board expects.
'This is another huge challenge but one we are looking forward to.'
While Morrissey is firmly embedded in the St. Martin's club, the Enniscorthy-based Garda Sergeant would still know a thing or two regarding Cuala, having played with the club alongside Wexford players such as Dave Bernie and Murty Dempsey, as well as Colm O'Leary, father of Eoin, who is a substitute on the St. Martin's Senior side, having won another county Minor medal on Saturday.
'I am firmly embedded in St. Martin's, of that there's no doubt,' Morrissey said.