Wexford football suffering as key players switch to hurling

The loss of Daithí Waters, Lee Chin shows balance of power has shifted to Dunne’s side

Lee Chin: player has made the move to Wexford’s hurling side alongside Daithí Waters. The footballers have suffered, no point pretending otherwise.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Lee Chin: player has made the move to Wexford’s hurling side alongside Daithí Waters. The footballers have suffered, no point pretending otherwise. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Even when things were going reasonably well for the Wexford footballers, they had to kick good and hard into the ice to secure their spot on the mountain. On this weekend in 2011, they played a double-header alongside the hurlers in Wexford Park. There was no conversation to be had as to whether they or the hurlers would last longer into the summer. They were the better bet, by a distance.

As predicted by anyone and all, they beat Westmeath that night by 12 points while the hurlers lost by 11 to Kilkenny. Whereas the hurlers lost next time out, the footballers went on to run eventual All-Ireland champions Dublin to a kick of a ball in the Leinster final before bowing out in an epic to Limerick in the last 12.

The year turned out more or less as it had been mapped out. And yet on that Saturday evening in front of 23,000 at Wexford Park, the footballers were on the undercard. More to the point, there wasn’t a whimper about it. Kilkenny were coming to Wexford Park, everything else was immaterial. Wexford’s status as a hurling county where they play some football wouldn’t be threatened, even in the doldrums.

So if it was tough for the footballers to get a look in then, it’s not hard to guess what life is like now. The core of that team has been gutted and David Power has had to start from the bottom again.

Prime candidate

Daithí WatersLee Chin

Liam Dunne needs his hurling team as strong as he can get it and he knew his county well enough to know that it wouldn’t exactly set off bushfires of outrage if he flexed hurling’s muscle a little. Nothing personal, just business. Power has had to make do with what was left.

“If you give something a personality, you have something to tune into,” says Diarmuid Lyng. “I think that’s what Liam Dunne has given all those young lads that have come through.

“So once you give them a feel for it, once it looks like it’s going in the right direction, then you find the likes of Lee Chin and Daithí Waters making those decisions.

“Which matters a huge amount in Wexford. You’re dealing with a small enough pool of players who are six-foot-three, physically capable, mentally strong young men who are able to shut down the rest of their life to play inter-county. You need everyone you can get who fits that profile. It’s a battle for a key few people.

A total physical specimen

“That idea of being like somebody who is at the total peak of their fitness and who plays the game the way he does, that appeals to the public. He constitutes a lot of the things that people want to identify with and he chose hurling over football so that is sign of the shift in power in the county.”

The footballers have suffered, no point pretending otherwise. Power has done his best to play a dud hand.

With a huge slice of his young panel at college in Dublin, he moved training to Tinryland in Carlow one night a week, just off the M9 motorway.

He has used the county’s junior side as a development squad training alongside the senior team and will nudge a few of them into the 26 tomorrow.

As long as they have Lyng and Ben Brosnan, they carry a scoring threat.

But they’re living in a world where the hurlers are on the rise and the dead truth of it is that the county ain’t big enough for the both of ‘em.

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