Lee Chin spared some big decisions by long-suffering knee problem

Rising dual star produced a stunning performance for the Wexford under-21 hurlers in Wednesday’s provincial final win over Kilkenny

Wexford captain Lee Chin lifts the Robbins Cup as his team-mate Rhys Clarke celebrate. Photograph: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Wexford captain Lee Chin lifts the Robbins Cup as his team-mate Rhys Clarke celebrate. Photograph: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 01:00

A long-suffering knee problem for Wexford dual player Lee Chin has postponed a very big decision for a very young man. Despite being named in both panels, Chin will not play for the Wexford hurlers or footballers in either of tomorrow’s qualifiers against Clare and Longford.

Chin underwent an MRI scan yesterday but was still named among Liam Dunne’s hurling substitutes while also attending football training last night so Aidan O’Brien’s physios could examine him.

The rising dual star produced a stunning performance for the Wexford under-21 hurlers in Wednesday’s provincial final against Kilkenny.

Chin’s contributions from centre back helped to end an 11-year quest for silverware.

“He has had a knee injury for some time,” O’Brien confirmed to The Irish Times. “After playing extra-time last night his knee has given him some trouble again. He played through the pain towards the end.

“I have spoken to Lee and there is a fairly strong possibility he may not be able to play so that therefore pre-empts any decision about whether he plays hurling or football.

“His injury appears to have taken care of the whole situation if you know what I mean.”

For now but the debate will continue.

“It’s not movement that causes him problem but if he jars the knee or gets a bang on it it becomes a problem,” said O’Brien.

Next qualifier
Despite the injury, so obviously exacerbated by the constant tug-o-war between the senior panels, both O’Brien and Gorman retain a shred of hope of using him, if not tomorrow then for Wexford’s next qualifier game. That’s presuming they progress.

The under-21 hurlers are not out again until facing the Ulster champions in the All-Ireland semi-final on August 24th.

The 20-year-old was expected to come off the bench for the hurlers against Clare in Thurles. Speaking earlier this week Chin indicated that hurling would win out over the football qualifier against Longford in Pearse Park.

“With the hurling I have played every championship game and played both of the qualifiers,” said Chin. “This is the big one now, probably the biggest game of the year for us. If we beat Clare we are through to an All-Ireland quarter-final. And that is a big factor that is playing on my mind.

“With the footballers, we are going up to play Longford. It is going to be a tough ask too. I’m so confused at the moment. (But) getting to an All-Ireland (hurling) quarter-final would be one of (my) goals.”

Dunne was unavailable for comment but when asked if too much pressure was being placed on such young shoulders, O’Brien replied: “I can tell you, from my point of view, he comes under no pressure whatsoever. We support Lee 100 per cent in trying to make it as smooth as possible.

‘Didn’t respond’
“I even told him on Monday not to give me a decision until he played the under-21 final because it may not even be an issue for him if his knee didn’t respond to treatment.

“Lee knows that whatever decision he makes there won’t be any falling out with us.”

However, Dunne is on record as stating Chin’s attempts to balance playing inter-county in both codes is to the detriment of his hurling. “Lee Chin could be a great hurler but he’s always only going to be an average footballer,” said Dunne recently.

The son of a Malaysian immigrant, in a very short space of time, has become the most marketable player in Wexford GAA. That value is set to sky-rocket after Wednesday’s heroics. “Any time we use Lee’s image on our twitter or facebook platforms the reaction is huge,” said Wexford PRO Rory Murphy.

“After the Dublin (hurling) game and before the Louth (football) game, that Sunday morning we put up that ‘Ferris Bueller had a day off but there isn’t one for Lee Chin’. I went off walking up the mountain and came back a few hours later to 16,000 hits.

“Anything with Lee in it and our Facebook page just goes mad.”

Basically, the kid sells. No coincidence that he wants to be a sales rep then.

“He’s a fantastic athlete, extremely fit and conditioned,” said Murphy. “So powerful.”

The colour of his skin prompted racial taunts from two players from Duffry Rovers in a club match last year. The pair each received two-month suspensions from the GAA.

Currently working as a barber in Wexford, but seeking other employment that would help to streamline his busy sporting schedule, Chin’s physique and hurling prowess make Seán Óg Ó hAilpín an obvious comparison . Ó hAilpín was a dual player for two years of his epic 16-year hurling career with Cork that ended last summer.

Hurling or soccer was the initial debate that raged around the south east. Chin plays hurling with Faythe Harriers, also home to Larry O’Gorman, but only recently switched from junior football club, St Mary’s, to Sarsfields. He previously missed out on featuring in underage teams after being contracted by Waterford United until 2011.

But O’Brien is conscious of protecting what has become Wexford GAA’s most valuable commodity. “His nature is such that he wants to play all games. That’s part of the challenge; trying to mind him, if you like, from his own enthusiasm.

“I’m really thrilled that he captained the under-21 hurlers last night. At the end of the game when he was really needed he stepped up and got them out of a hole, showing his great ability. There was a stage there when the season was looking awkward with how the fixtures had fallen as Wexford hurling and football were playing on successive days.

“Obviously that has put him in a very difficult position.

“His season could have become a mess, despite his best intentions, but at least now he will come out of the season with something tangible.”