Lee Chin: Davy helped to rediscover my mojo
Wexford star insists his confidence is restored ahead of vital tie with Cats
Whether intentional or otherwise, Lee Chin has been out of the spotlight off the pitch this season and has been doing his talking between the white lines for Wexford.
Chin was the source of much debate last year when talk circulated about his status as a 'full-time hurler' and it seemed to affect his performances as he failed to scale the heights of 2017 when he took all before him.
Everyone had an opinion on his status as a 'professional' athlete and while it's something he's reluctant to expand on, he would like to set the record straight.
"That's all it was, it was a perception. There was not really much truth in it," he says when questioned about being a full-time player.
"I don't have any regrets and at the moment I'm happy enough with where I am."
The 26-year-old isn't keen to delve too much into his career off the pitch, having been tarred and feathered following previous comments, but he insists he has a few things in the pipeline and will be "going into business" over the coming months.
It's clear to see the effect that Davy Fitzgerald has had on Chin's development and the Model star holds the Clare legend in high esteem.
Fitzgerald welcomed a frustrated Chin to the Banner last summer for a couple of days to take his mind off hurling - following a series of underwhelming displays - and he has looked re-energised this year with the Faythe Harriers clubman handed free-taking duties for the championship campaign.
While it didn't go to plan with conditions causing havoc against Galway, Wexford's joint-captain has embraced the added responsibility and is happy with where his game is at.
"I'm definitely more settled, I've more confidence this year. I'm happy enough with the three games I've played so far, I've shown some level of consistency in my performances and that's the most any player can really hope for," he says.
Many bemoan Wexford's style of play under Fitzgerald - with Kevin Foley regularly taking on the role of sweeper - and consider it counter-productive, but Chin insists there's far more to their play than meets the eye.
"I know people think we play negative but we think we play very positive with regards to the way we attack and how many players we get forward.
"Sometimes it's a case, when we're training, that we have too many lads up forward, and there's no room up there and you're complaining and telling the wing-backs to get back down the field at times.
"That's just the way Davy encourages us to play, he does like that off-the-cuff, that boldness in players. We have that in abundance there at the moment. It's something that we're really going to bring out in ourselves this weekend."
Despite avoiding defeat in their three Leinster SHC games to date with draws against Dublin and Galway followed by a comprehensive victory over Carlow, Wexford still have work to do to secure qualification for the All-Ireland series.
They welcome Kilkenny to town on Saturday night, almost two years to the day since their biggest win of the Fitzgerald era against the same opposition, at the same venue.
That was a Eureka moment for the current squad, enabling them to "finally realise what we are capable of", but they must repeat the dose if they want to book another Leinster final place, and Chin knows the scale of the task ahead.
"Any team that has goals or has set their ambitions to win something, I think Kilkenny has been a monkey on every team's back for years and if you're competing with and beating the likes of Kilkenny on the odd occasion, you're not too far away," he says.
"The last couple of years we've had serious battles with them. We've played them nine times in the time Davy has been down so far, we're fairly even and this game is pretty much do or die.
"It's going to take a complete performance to get over the line. We're going to have to stay in the game so it's a huge challenge ahead of us."
To do so they will have to keep the shackles on Cats star TJ Reid, with Chin, like many others, marvelling in his recent displays, although he won't be admiring the Ballyhale Shamrocks maestro this weekend.
"He's one of the best in the game at the moment," the Wexford man acknowledges. "His performance last weekend was exceptional, he's their real leader. He's been phenomenal throughout the year and he's a joy to watch at the minute."
Wexford returned to training a little later than normal this year with one eye on the summer and producing their best when it matters most. Chin is raring to go and he knows that Saturday against their old rivals could well define his county's season.
"I do feel fresher, sometime freshness can be disguised as fitness but when you feel fresher, you'll feel fitter automatically. He (Fitzgerald) has got a good balance on that this year," he reasons.
Lee Chin was speaking at the launch of Faythe Harriers' 'Win A House' fundraiser where a €400,000 property can be won for €100. Tickets can be bought at www.winthehouse.ie with the draw taking place on December 31