THE WEXFORD League Youths had their first championship game of this year's campaign and, as so often in the past, it wasn't easy. Each year we must come up with a different team, same field but different crop.
Each game represents a learning curve for the players, and also for the management. You can train and play practice games, as we should, but not until the championship starts will you see the white in their eyes, not until the game starts and the pressure is real, boys must become men.
And time waits for nobody. It was a game we should have won, it was also a game we could have lost. A good game of football to get under our belts but no doubt much bigger challenges lie ahead, Wicklow for starters in the next game on January 15. We managed to miss a penalty in the second minute, saw Richie Farrell score a super goal in the fourth, only to be pegged back to 1-1 by the tenth.
Despite lording the possession stakes, the Wexford League Youths failed to put light between themselves and their opponents and paid the price early in the second-half when Kildare took the lead. Game on.
The response was positive, helped by the introduction of John Kavanagh and Aidan Nolan who managed to force home the equaliser.
A winner beckoned for Wexford but Robert Dempsey, Jamie Fox and David Miller all grazed the wrong side of the post. It's not easy for a new group of players to gel overnight - five of the starting line-up coming from clubs other than the Youths club team - and no doubt we have much to learn. Conceding two goals in the manner we did was very disappointing, not something that good teams do.
I've always regarded the early games as the most difficult and dangerous - having won five AllIrelands doesn't make it any easier as our scalp is highly prized - and the trick every year is to survive 'til March, then we'll be a team to be reckoned with.
First we must get that far. Best on the day for Wexford were Eoin O'Shea, Richie Farrell, Jamie Fox, David Miller, John Kavanagh and Aidan Nolan.