Chin set to throw in his lot with hurlers
LEE CHIN looks set to concentrate on inter-county hurling only in 2014 after a challenging year trying to serve two Wexford teams.
The only dual player operating at the highest level in 2013 is expected to declare for the hurlers ahead of the new season. Wexford hurling manager Liam Dunne will assemble his squad early next month to commence preparations and expects to have sole access to the talented 21-year-old.
"That is certainly the vibe I have been getting. It will be a good lift for us. I think Lee will be better off for making a decision one way or another," said Dunne.
Chin, who has yet to publicly confirm his intentions, played championship matches for both teams on one weekend, coming off the bench as a substitute for the hurlers against Dublin in their drawn Leinster quarter-final on the Saturday night before heading for Drogheda the following day to take part in the footballers' success over Louth.
He faced an agonising decision in July when the hurlers were fixed to play Clare on the same Saturday evening as the footballers took on Laois. But after injuring his knee in Wexford's Leinster U-21 final win over Kilkenny, he was spared that decision.
With Andrew Shore also committing to hurling only – a decision he made earlier this year after originally committing to both squads – and Matthew O'Hanlon and Liam Og McGovern returning after being unavailable last year, Dunne can look forward to 2014 with renewed optimism.
O'Hanlon was the county's progressive full-back in 2011 and 2012 before he went to study in Madrid late last year. He returned home briefly in June but then headed for the USA for the summer, missing Wexford's championship campaign.
O'Hanlon's absence opened the way for Tomas Waters to take over at full-back and he had a superb campaign in the position until he sustained a serious knee injury against Clare in Semple Stadium.
Since having the cruciate ligament repaired by surgery, Waters has endured a torrid time with infections, the latest of which has hospitalised him once again this week.
"He has had a horrendous time," revealed Dunne. "He's after having three different bouts of infection now. He's been moved from the sports clinic in Santry to St Vincent's Hospital on Monday night to see can they get to the bottom of it. He was in having another scope on the knee for another infection. He's had a tough time. Everything was going to plan.
"His cruciate ligament and medial ligament were repaired and then when his surgeon Ray Moran opened him up he discovered there was damage done to the bone as well, so they drilled holes in the bone to let the cartilage grow through it. That is healing back well, but unfortunately there has been infection."
Dunne is still confident that Waters will overcome his current problems with the knee and make a return next summer. "He did well for a fella that never hurled as a defender in his life," he said.
Dunne feels Shore can make further progress now that he too has committed to hurling only. "I would see Andrew making huge improvement again because he hadn't actually hurled the year before."
Dunne will retain the services of Paudie Butler as coach with Gerry Fitzpatrick staying on as trainer and former full-back Ger Cush joining him as an additional selector.
He insists they can look forward to 2014 with optimism and believes that the new league format proposed at the last Central Council meeting can work out favourably.
"Hopefully the new league format will be passed," he said. "It will help our lads, playing better teams. That's what we need, more competitive games."
Wexford forced the All-Ireland champions Clare to extra-time and drew with eventual Leinster champions Dublin in 2013, which accounts for a competitive season, but Dunne said he will leave others to judge their achievements.
"I know where my goals were and what I wanted to achieve," he said. "I'm getting a huge commitment from the players and I can't ask for any more.
"Clare and Dublin both pushed on after our games with them and that's something we have to do now. If we don't push this on from getting those results we'll be left behind."