Posts Tagged ‘Wexford’

Waterford 2-15 (21) Wexford 3-15 (24)

I’ve seen this play before. A traditional hurling county, after a long period of underachievement, suddenly (to those not reading the signs) hits their stride. A raw young team engages in series of matches where they repeatedly dominate their opponents only to repeatedly struggle to put said opponents away. They thrill the neutral and energise their own county, so long used to mediocrity or worse. Yep, Wexford 2014 are comparable to Waterford 1998.

Where that leaves Waterford 2015 remains to be seen.

As a long-standing advocate of the back door, this game typified what is best about the system. It gives counties who rarely get the chance to play each other an opportunity to do so in a venue appropriate to the occasion. It was a real pleasure to see the stand full to the rafters at Nowlan Park. Such pleasure quickly evaporated when it became clear that the Wexford faithful outnumbered us by a factor of probably 3:1. A cynic might question the use of ‘faithful’ there as there can’t have been many of these people present this time last year in Thurles when each Wexford score when they ran Clare to extra-time – another play I’ve seen somewhere else – last year was greeted with barely a ripple. You might think that. I, on the other hand, couldn’t possibly comment.

06 Waterford v Wexford 19 July 2014

The early exchanges didn’t suggest that the Wexford support had called this one right as points were quickly exchanged between Shane Walsh and Podge Doran. What they did suggest was the Waterford support who had thrown their hat at it in exasperation at the tactics being employed by Derek McGrath and co were justified as the short puckouts that were such a blight on the midweek game against the Cork Under-21’s were quickly in evidence and quickly causing grief as Wexford pounced on the looseness for Paul Morris to slot over.  A cheap free won from a sideline ball allowed Pauric Mahony to level matters but Wexford, while occasionally guilty of over-elaboration, were getting possession and over-elaboration isn’t so bad when it leads to a score as it did for a fine effort by Conor McDonald. Waterford were already having to shoot on sight to compensate for the all-too-frustrating lack of bodies in the full-forward line, Austin Gleeson slashing aimlessly at one effort from distance while Mahony was unlucky to see an even longer effort also go wide.

Not that Wexford were immune to poor shooting. History tells us that it’s a curse down there, and it was well punished by Waterford as Jake Dillon did land one from distance. Wexford worked another point for McDonald and then had all the time in the world to put Paul Morris in the clear for simple tap-In goal. It was sign of the alarm in the Waterford ranks that when Colin Dunford’s great solo run ended in him being hauled down for a penalty, there was never any question that Waterford should go for anything other than goal. We were surely going to need it. Gleeson’s effort was poor, visible even from the other end of the ground, and it felt like a good result that it was knocked out for a 65 which Mahony duly converted. Not long afterwards Shane Walsh was called ashore. Given the litany of injuries he has had, one wonders whether we have seen the last of him, which added another downbeat layer to our papier-maché model of misery.

23 Waterford v Wexford 19 July 2014 Action 1

While Wexford were cocky – their fans around us seemed so, at least – and Waterford’s negativity was given our support gas, the game had yet to ignite. If Wexford couldn’t ram home their advantage then Waterford still had a chance. There was a glimmer of a chance on the break for Waterford which led to a Wexford back committing a professional foul rather than let anything in and Mahony was able to reduce the gap. Then Liam Lawlor went on a fine run but his pass to Jake Dillon asked way too much of him and Wexford were able to clear. The next Wexford attack was immensely frustrating for Waterford, repeatedly spurning chances to clear and Wexford were eventually able to score and keep the goal lead. It was only at this point that the penny dropped with me that Michael Walsh was playing in the midfield and Kevin Moran at centre-back. There’s me complaining all year about dodgy line-ups and then I miss a move like this. What was it in aid of? It wasn’t wrong in the style of playing Walsh at full-back in the 2011 Munster final, but it didn’t add to the team, akin to swapping your bishops before a chess game. It could have been either player who teed up Mahony with a super break, and it could have been any one of the Waterford forwards who shot weakly wide.

It did indicate a way out for Waterford though – stop shooting from distance, start having the backs and midfield get forward and squeezing the Wexford backs who were having it so easy up to this point. Getting more in their faces allowed Gleeson to pounce on a loose ball to cut the gap to one,  then he benefited from a run from deep by Shane Fives to slot over another score to level matters. It required a lot of the backs, something that would be significant later, but for the moment it was an amazingly quick turnaround, especially when a Mahony free left Waterford ahead, almost completely against the run of the play in the first half hour. A stunning long-range shot from Dillon showed Waterford were now on top.

11 Waterford v Wexford 19 July 2014

This is probably unfair on the management, but it looked as if it were the players, particularly Walsh and Moran, who had wrought this change, talent reacting to changing circumstances. Wexford got one back but Walsh and Moran immediately combined to release Gleeson for another score. You could see Waterford tails were now up, Noel Connors making life miserable for Liam Óg McGovern and forcing him to hit a poor wide. The capacity for self-destruction was still there though for Waterford. The ref picked up on a jersey tug when it seemed like Wexford were going nowhere, and Waterford literally put most of the team back on the line for the free so Wexford were happy to take the point. That was as nothing compared to those goddamn bloody insane maddening short puckouts, and Waterford were once again caught out to allow Wexford to level matters.  Then again, what was the point of hitting the ball long when Gleeson, upon winning the puckout, had to go backwards to the corner-back? There’s only so many times you can drive forward like Waterford were doing and right at the end of the first half, disaster struck. I was convinced that Lawlor had his hurley tugged as he approached the dropping ball. Whether it was that or a moment of lost concentration, Wexford were right in around the back and Conor McDonald could score with ease. Now it was Wexford’s turn to have their tails up, and we had reason to be grateful for a couple of shocking wides that there was just a goal in it at half-time.

We had had our moments, but could we get goals? There were hopeful signs in the early exchanges in the second half, Matthew O’Hanlon brilliantly cutting out a long pass in the first attack and Dillon hesitating when he had a small opening and was blocked by several defenders who managed to get back. Wexford showed no such hesitation at the other end as Doran lashed a puckout straight over the bar, then David Redmond galloped down the middle of the field unopposed to drill home Wexford’s third goal.

What a shambles. Surely the benefit of being negative is that you don’t have to worry about being sliced up like that? I was seriously worried at this stage that this was going to be a complete bust, and had Wexford scored with their next effort on goal it might well have done, but O’Keeffe somehow flung himself to his left to keep out the goalbound effort. Two changes immediately after a poor Mahony wide from a free, including the obvious arrival of Seamus Prendergast, showed the sense of desperation. It had the desired effect though. Mahony got one from a free and then Waterford managed to get that elusive goal. It was a cracking piece of play from Kevin MoRAN, as the presenter on Sky Sports News would refer to him, playing a pinpoint ball across to Dunford to score. Seamus teed up Gleeson to trim the gap to two, and after Wexford hit a 65 Dunford really gave them a right kick in the crotch, emerging with the ball after a magnificent pileup in the square and unbelievably we were ahead.

24 Waterford v Wexford 19 July 2014 Action 2

What an effort, but that was the thing – the effort. Are Waterford not prepared properly, or are they not good enough to the extent that they had to burn through 70 minutes of energy to keep in touch after 50? Wexford reacted quickly with two points to regain the lead, the first of the efforts a goalbound effort that was deflected over for a goal. Dunford kept up the good fight by drawing a foul, but Mahony could only send another free wide.

At the other end Noel Connors was left exposed and had to give away a foul. This drew a yellow card from the ref and rather crass cheers from the Wexford fans. Anything I say about the Wexford fans will be dismissed as sour grapes, and that’s the reader’s prerogative. The huge Wexford crowd was part of the story here though, so I think I’m entitled to some latitude. There sure is something to be said for the wisdom of crowds, and the size of the Wexford one told us that they could see something was a-brewing with this team, which is great after so many years in the doldrums. Still, did they have to bring everyone in the county who had never attended a GAA match? It seemed like every wide was greeted with a big cheer, a breach of rule number one: don’t celebrate the score until you see the green/white flag. Was I imagining all this? Possibly, although the loon who had been necking a bottle of Jägermeister throughout the game picked up on it too, yelling “YEESS!” at a particularly inappropriate time to chuckles from everyone around. He did it again moments later. There were no laughs. Tough crowd.

16 Waterford v Wexford 19 July 2014

Such blather prevents me from facing up to the reality. It was a one score game, but Waterford were shot. Wexford stretched the lead to three when a sniff of a chance was pounced on by corner-back Liam Ryan who roared down the field to set up the point and lift every yellow belly in the ground, veteran and ingénue alike. Stephen Molumphy showed the benefit of fresh legs with a flying score, but it was going to take something improbable to save us. Stephen Bennett certainly fits into the subset of those capable of the improbable and he came on just as he had in the Under-21 game, so much pressure on such young shoulders.

A little luck also helps, as the ref played a ridiculous advantage when Wexford would probably have looked for the free and the ‘advantage’ ended up hitting the outside of the post. We were going to need oodles of it, and got some more when O’Keeffe stepped past a dropping ball and the defence somehow kept it out. Even more luck came in the form of some abysmal Wexford shooting. The game had completely broken down at this stage and it meant that there was a slim chance we could pick their pocket.  Molumphy and Bennett each had half-chances but Wexford managed to close them down and force the wide. As the game ticked into the last couple of minutes Bennett had better than half a chance, but Ryan was there again to block and clear. A late chance to drop it in drifted wide and with that they finally got to the finish line with us still clinging to their coattails.

Seven minutes into the second half and seven points down, I really feared a pounding like we had endured against Cork. It didn’t happen, and for that we have reason to be relieved. The loss to Cork at Under-21 was far more grievous. And while I couldn’t help having a wry cut at Wexford above, it was gratifying to see them enjoying a win over Waterford with such gusto. We ain’t dead yet. We might be soon, but we ain’t dead yet.

21 Waterford v Wexford 19 July 2014

Waterford: Stephen O’Keeffe,  Shane Fives, Liam Lawlor (Stephen Bennett), Noel  Connors, Darragh Fives, (Stephen Molumphy, 0-1), Kevin Moran, Tadhg de Búrca, Michael Walsh (capt), Paudie Prendergast, Shane O’Sullivan, Pauric Mahony (0-7, 0-6f, 0-1 65; Martin O’Neill), Austin Gleeson (0-3), Colin Dunford (2-1), Shane Walsh (0-1; Gavin O’Brien), Jake Dillon (0-2; Seamus Prendergast)

Wexford : Mark Fanning, Liam Ryan, Matthew O’Hanlon (capt), Keith Rossiter (Willie Devereux; Ian Byrne, 0-1),  Andrew Shore, Eoin Moore, Ciarán Kenny,  David Redmond (1-0; Garrett Sinnott), Lee Chin, Paul Morris (1-6, 0-3f), Podge Doran (0-2), Harry Kehoe (Diarmuid O’Keeffe, 0-1)  Jack Guiney (0-1), Conor McDonald (1-2), Liam Óg McGovern (0-2; Rory Jacob)

HT: Waterford 0-12 (12) Wexford 2-9 (15)

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - July 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Categories: All-Ireland, Hurling, Match Reports, Waterford   Tags: ,

Waterford v Wexford, 19 July 2014

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - at 8:46 pm

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Counsel of despair

Among all the Senior, Minor and Under-21 Championship & National League matches that I have seen Waterford play live, last Wednesday’s Under-21 loss to Cork was the most disappointing result of the lot.

It’s often said that Waterford perform at their best when they are underdogs. This is despite us usually losing games where we are underdogs because, well, it’s correctly assumed before the game that we’re not as good as the opposition. What people mean when they say we perform better as underdogs is that the tag of favourites brings with it expectations that are very hard for Waterford to fulfill. And against Cork, that hit us with a vengeance. A combination of factors before the game suggested this might be Waterford’s day after four successive first-game knockouts at Under-21 level. We were at home, we had shown last year against Clare that we could compete at this level against the eventual All-Ireland champions, and we had a formidable combination of players with Senior experience and Minor All-Ireland-winning flair. To hell with the tag of underdogs, the time had come to embrace the tag of favourites and play like it.

Now there was a plan of battle that didn’t survive contact with the enemy. The worst thing is that the enemy was the one within. The first half showed that Waterford could certainly compete on a man-to-man basis. The outstanding performer on the field was Alan Cadogan, but this was not unexpected. Austin Gleeson wasn’t far behind and the Waterford backs were well on top. So on top that we were wondering why they felt the need to play with such a defensive lineup. Yep, in an example of that BS phrase so beloved of management gurus, Waterford were engaging in some vertical integration between Senior and Under-21 levels. Forwards dropping off to win possession and playing short passes around the back to keep that possession. Most players were competing well, the depredations of Cadogan being the exception and sometimes you have to accept your punishment in the manner other teams had to cope with John Mullane. It felt like gilding the lily to persist with these tactics when simply trusting the players seemed a more optimal plan.

And in one horrible second-half minute the gap between the expectations generated by the talent on the field and the reality of their application was brutally exposed.  In fairness the game was probably already slipping away by the time Cork went down to 14 men, the umpires spotting a straight-red swipe on Gleeson. There was a five-point gap with only 18 minutes to go and Waterford hadn’t shown enough of a goal threat to suggest they might turn that around. But having seen the game against Clare last year slip away thanks to a red card, here was a reason to hope we might be the beneficiaries of such a decision this year. Cue the bad karma of that short passing game, particularly the evil of the short puckouts. Goalie hits the ball to back, back has his pass across the field intercepted, Cork pounce for a goal, the optimism generated by the red card is immediately snuffed out, and a county that have played in five provincial Minor finals in six years finds itself unable to produce a result at Under-21 level for the fifth year on the bounce.

The despair in Walsh Park was palpable, something you can see in the bleakness on boards.ie. It can’t have been a coincidence that both Derek McGrath and Peter Queally are adopting this dispiriting, demoralising, and borderline unforgivable mode of play. Barring an astonishing volte-face on the part of management, one for which Wednesday night is evidence of why it should happen and evidence of why it won’t, Waterford are going to go through the same motions tonight. Set against stories of Wexford selling out their (stand) allocation, we have veterans like Giveitfong talking of not going for fear of what might befall us thanks to the “crazy and self-destructive tactics”. I’ll be there, but after Wednesday night hope is on life support.

3 comments - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - July 19, 2014 at 8:08 am

Categories: All-Ireland, Hurling, Waterford   Tags: , , , ,

A week is a long time etc

How good are Wexford? It’s a question that throws up a lot of variables after their thrilling 180-minute brawl with Clare. The amount of times they had to go to the well and still came out ahead of the All-Ireland champions tells us that this was no fluke. They are back-to-back Leinster Under-21 winners for a reason, and will take some beating next Saturday.

On other hand . . . what the hell was that?! When Waterford were trying to make the breakthrough back in the late 90′s, it often felt like we needed to be four or five points better than the opposition just to break even. Wexford’s performance against Clare was this mentality turned up to 11. In both matches they found themselves with twin advantages that you’d normally expect to be decisive, ten points and a man up in the first game in Ennis and two men up yesterday in Wexford, and on neither occasion could they make those advantages stick. Even the satisfaction of finally getting over the line having played 15 v 15 in extra time should be tempered by the reality that the Clare dirty baker’s dozen were really dirty, really knackered after a quite Herculean second half had seen them somehow cling on to Wexford’s coattails. Liam Dunne routinely displayed a curious contempt for Waterford in his newspaper column over the years, always seeing us a soft touch to anyone looking for a morale-boosting win. Having dispatched the All-Ireland champions Wexford will be favourites, but if Derek McGrath isn’t drumming into his panel that these guys are more brittle than a poppadom lacework, he’s not doing his job right.

Before then, we have the underage teams attempting to keep alive the dream of the last county who have a chance of winning an All-Ireland hurling treble, a statement that manages to be both totally factual and utterly meaningless at the same time. For the second year running the Minors enter the lions den of a match against a Limerick team who will be bolstered by the presence of a large contingent following their Seniors. It’s always hard to predict with Minors, the teams being so different from one year to the next, but that quasi-home advantage still applies and the sense of injustice that is surely still smouldering in Limerick over the Hawk-Eye debacle can also be transmitted from one set of young fellas to the next. While the day has not yet arrived where we can blasé about a Munster underage title – seven hurling cups in our entire history – the fact that defeat today wouldn’t be the end of the road does take the edge off proceedings. More interesting is the prospect of a tilt at the Under-21 title. Having given the eventual Munster and All-Ireland champions the biggest rattle they received last year, and with the chance to incorporate a smattering of last year’s Minors, is it too much to hope for that we might get it right after such a woeful record in recent times? Probably, but that won’t stop me hoping.

A final thought before the trouble begins. In order to clear the decks for televised coverage of the Clare-Tipperary semi-final, the Under-21′s of Waterford and Cork were initally due to play on Thursday. This meant the game was only two days before the Seniors were due to play Wexford. In a shocking outbreak of cop-on, the Under-21 match was brought forward 24 hours. You can imagine that, if they had been so inclined, Cork could have made it very difficult for this change to take place, a change that obviously benefited Waterford. Fair play to them for their sense of fair play. And that’s the last time you’ll ever read me saying that.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - July 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Categories: All-Ireland, Hurling, Waterford   Tags: , , , , ,

Do the right thing

For too long, Waterford has been the go-to place for how not to handle things in the GAA. So I almost cried with joy when Diarmuid Devereux, the chairman of the Wexford County Board, chose to go west when it came to finding reasons why he felt obliged to dispense with the services of the county Minor hurling manager, Eddie Walsh:

We put a plan in place similar to other counties, such as Dublin, Waterford and Limerick. If it works for those counties, why not for Wexford?

Are you sure, Diarmuid? Maybe he meant Kilkenny and was too bitter to admit it. But then I think of what our Minors accomplished this year, and how even that wasn’t good enough to keep Seán Power in his post when faced with the plan to promote managers in line with the players they have mentored since U-14/Tony Forristal level, and I think that he really does mean Waterford! Thanks for the compliment, but don’t go learning the lessons too well.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - December 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm

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The GAA according to Elliot Reed

The last time I used the National League tag for a post, I had this to say about the prospect of the League being changed to accommodate the freshly-relegated Rebels:

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Headquarters will be pleased to see that no one is safe. Maybe they’ll respect the integrity of the process. I’m happy to be proven wrong, and it’s why I’m hoping Clare beat Cork. If this happens and Cork are banished to the quicksands of Division 1B, I’ll be delighted to hold my hands up and say I misjudged those who run the association and their motivations. Should Cork lose though and the League is rejigged to keep them in the standards to which they are accustomed, I may find myself donning a tinfoil hat with all the other kooks claiming that those making the Championship draws don’t rattle those balls/hurleys in the pot with sufficient vigour.

While I was very confident about them at the time – no less an authority than SBB on Seó Spóirt said (as Gaeilge) that Limerick must be hoping for a Clare victory so the League would be changed – all through the summer I was conscious that I might have to eat those words. What would be an appropriate point at which to issue a mea culpa?

(And yes, I have used this gag before.)

I had a great big wedge of text about why this is wrong, but the Wexford County Board chairman Diarmuid Devereux says it far better. Now excuse me while I don my tinfoil hat.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - October 4, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Categories: GAA, Hurling, National League, Waterford   Tags: ,

The Big Three – in a League of their own

PlayedWonDrewLostGFPFTotalGAPATotal+/-Pts
Tipperary53021085115493105106
Kilkenny5302681998719546
Galway52127719268199-75
Waterford52123728147587-65
Clare5203486981083113-154
Cork5122678964809244

Miracles never cease. For once, the National Hurling League finds itself not having to defend itself against charges of unfairness/irrelevance/pointlessness/boredom/all of the above as the fate of nearly every team went down, quite literally, to the last puck of the final round of matches. Had Waterford or Cork conjured up late goals in their respective games then the table would have spun like a top. As it was, there is some slight irritation to see the All-Ireland, Munster and Leinster champions in the top three places, giving an unfair impression of as-you-were. But overall it has been a rollercoaster contest, and given the usual denunciations of the League format for being all of the above, the authorities have much to be pleased about.

Sadly for them, and happily for those of us who like to be disagreeable for the sake of it, it’s never that simple. Each team’s performance will only be properly assessed in September. No doubt there was some pundit somewhere who wrote a preview of last year’s All-Ireland final and opined that Galway’s playoff torment last year when they only got past Dublin after a replay was really a blessing in disguise as it toughened them up for what was to come. Clare and Cork will be hard pressed to see those advantages from their current perspective. Then there’s Waterford, the only team without a game between now and the Championship. Will we be better off for coming into the Clare game fresh, or worse off for not having another game in which to iron out the kinks? No sod knows, but that won’t stop experts rushing in to fill the vacuum of knowledge with their considered opinions.

While I may scoff at the meanderings of pundits, all the while hopefully giving off a sense of awareness of the irony of a blogger scoffing at the meandering of pundits, there is ultimately no damage done by their retrospective know-it-all attitude to the League. More serious is what happens next. Not at the top of the League where Tipperary, Kilkenny and Galway will trip over themselves to downplay its significance, all the while skirting around the challenge provided by whoever emerges from the Limerick-Dublin promotion playoff, a team that will be as high as a kite from the relief of escaping the abyss that is Division 1B. No, the serious business is the result of the Clare-Cork relegation playoff.

I’m not one for conspiracy theories. It’s always amusing how people rub their chins in a told-you-so fashion about how they predicted the draw for the Championship, particularly the qualifiers, before it happened. Note that these predictions are never revealed until after the draw was made. It’s not as if you would need to put your prediction in a sealed envelope with a postmark on it or take a photo with the newspaper from the day the prediction was made for it to be a verifiable vision of the future. All that’s needed is to put it on a message board and viola! the corruption of those in positions of power is laid bare. Maybe those making these self-evidently foolish accusations of corruption are plants designed to distract from the true seers and their plaintive cries, lost in the wilderness of obfuscation. It’s genius, I tell you, evil genius!

Okay, that paragraph went off on a tangent too far. The concern from the Clare-Cork game is simple. If Cork get relegated and they change the format of the League then all suggestions that the GAA is hard-wired to bow to the needs of the Big Three will have found a solid example from which even the loopiest of conspiracies can claim validity. Despite the thrilling 2013 season, the current League format is not without problems. Tom Dempsey got a lot of stick from Waterford supporters for blithely talking around us on RTÉ’s Sunday Sport programme as if we don’t exist, but anyone who listened to him a lot through the spring will have heard his repeated objections to the one-up-one-down format of Divisions 1A/B, and he’s right. It’s simply not fair that Limerick should have to enter a playoff against Dublin to see who gets promoted, just as it was unfair last year that Galway had to playoff against Dublin last year despite winning two games to Dublin’s none, and finishing ahead of Waterford on points difference but losing on the head-to-head - they might feel some small sense of satisfaction that it was us who lost out to them on the head-to-head this year.

It’s unfair, but no one in authority cares as long as it’s only the grunts who count their All-Ireland successes in single figures that fall into its clutches. So you can well imagine the hysterics that will erupt in Croke Park should Cork find themselves in Division 1B next year. When Cork failed to fulfil fixtures in the 2008 NHL, their only penalty was to have the games awarded to the opposition, one of which happened to be against Waterford. There was understandable fury in Wexford as Waterford were effectively gifted two points while Wexford played and lost to a full-strength Cork. Had it been the other way around, and Waterford ended up losing to Cork in a playoff to see who got into the knockout stages, it would have been Waterford who ended up in Division 2 for 2009. Every action that was taken was designed to accommodate Cork – God forbid that they might be penalised for distorting the competition in the manner they did – and we were the lucky beneficiaries of those actions. With all that in mind, can you see the GAA accepting the status quo should Clare beat Cork and the Rebels find themselves slumming it with Antrim and Laois/Westmeath next year? Yerra, the League will seem ripe for another restructuring and the success of Division 1A in providing so many thrills and spills in 2013 be damned.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Headquarters will be pleased to see that no one is safe. Maybe they’ll respect the integrity of the process. I’m happy to be proven wrong, and it’s why I’m hoping Clare beat Cork. If this happens and Cork are banished to the quicksands of Division 1B, I’ll be delighted to hold my hands up and say I misjudged those who run the association and their motivations. Should Cork lose though and the League is rejigged to keep them in the standards to which they are accustomed, I may find myself donning a tinfoil hat with all the other kooks claiming that those making the Championship draws don’t rattle those balls/hurleys in the pot with sufficient vigour.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - April 2, 2013 at 9:14 am

Categories: GAA, Hurling, National League, Waterford   Tags: , , , , , , ,

The call of the Waterford Sirens

Mrs d has a great love for all things medieval and monastic, so on our second trip together to Ireland I suggested that Mount Melleray might be a nice place to visit. As we set out for west Waterford she inquired as to what state the buildings were in. A moment passed while I tried to work out what she meant, and then it hit me: she thought the building was a ruin. Her face when she realised that there was a working monastery in Waterford was even more of a joy than usual to behold.

And the Waterford County Board must be grateful for the existence of Mount Melleray as a place where they can carry on their deliberations on the identity of the next senior hurling manager. As with the departure of Davy Fitz the vacuum of information is total and we are left to rely on sources that might as well come with inbuilt inverted commas. A column from Dermot Crowe in yesterday’s Sindo typifies the genre, with Jason Ryan being touted as the front-runner. This is despite Ryan saying:

he had not applied for the job and that he wasn’t nominated by the clubs, while also stating that there were other candidates in contention who deserved respect and due recognition. However, as with any management appointment process, informal discussions can take place and it is believed that a six-man sub-committee has been in contact with Ryan.

“It is believed”? In other words, he’s guessing. About the best can be said for this is that Dermot has had a conversation with someone who is convinced that the six-man panel (whoever they are) are gravitating towards Ryan. Woodward and Bernstein it ain’t.

Still, articles like this do serve a function in that they give us something to talk about. And I have to admit that the notion of Ryan taking over is an intriguing one. His success with Wexford was built on neither a robust inheritance from underage teams (it was only this year that they won anything at those levels) or the talismanic powers of a great player (their run to the Leinster final this year was achieved without Mattie Forde). His achievements there far outweigh those accrued at inter-county level by the other people being mooted for the job. Yes, even those of Liam Dunne.

Of course, there is the small matter of him never having managed a hurling team, something noted by @LDelpiero on Twitter:

Why not ask Trapitoni if he is interested then? They are different games!

One is tempted to be glib and observe that Trap would at least stop the full-back line from leaking goals. On a more substantive note, anyone who has played Gaelic games in Waterford will be familiar with both sports at some level and Stradbally is proudly a dual club. What Ryan would hopefully bring to the table from his time with Wexford would be the ability to organise a team that can win what Nicky English referred to as the fourteen little battles. You’ll win more than half of the games where you are superior in eight positions, almost all of them where you are on top in nine, and where you win in ten or more positions you’ll have the 2011 Munster final. The Wexford County Board saw something in Jason Ryan four years ago that made them take a risk on the young Turk. Waterford would do well to take such a risk too. And if I’m wrong, I’ll become a monk at Melleray and take a vow of silence. It’s win-win!

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - September 26, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Categories: Football, GAA, Hurling, Waterford   Tags: ,

Heads I win, tails you lose

Far be it for me to scoff at another website for giving out duff information after having the wrong date of our final NHL match against Galway on the site for, ooh, about six months. But you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t laugh at the Indo’s blunder on Thursday when they let a generic match report prepared in anticipation of the Leinster Under-21 football final between Wexford and Longford slip through the net. The link is gone, but with the magic of Print Scrn. . .

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - April 10, 2011 at 7:38 am

Categories: Football, GAA   Tags: , , , , ,

Semi-detached

It was often said that losing at the semi-final stage of the English FA Cup was worse than losing in the final. There was a a sliver of validity to this notion in an era when playing at Wembley was a special experience but generally it was a comment made by pundits who couldn’t think of anything original to say. And the failure of yet another Waterford team at the semi-final stage doesn’t make it any more true. Given the beatings we’ve taken in finals, there might be a perverse relief to be had from De La Salle’s loss to Clarinbridge. Maybe O’Loughlin Gaels would have done unto DLS as Portumna did unto DLS in 2009.

Still, even putting aside the heart-breaking manner of the defeat, it’s disspiriting that we can’t seem to get over the semi-final hump. A Kilkenny contributor on AFR once ridiculed our efforts over the years on the basis that if you couldn’t even win semi-finals on a frequent basis you couldn’t claim to have come ‘close’ to winning the All-Ireland. This guy was a particularly vicious individual, the type of character who thinks that the excellence of his fellow countymen at hurling makes him a better person than anyone from Waterford, and would usually sprinkle his comments with asides on the moral fibre (or, as he saw it, the lack thereof) of the Suirside townies so it would be wise not to take his analysis too much to heart. But on this subject, he had a point. Nicholas Soames once observed that the Tories would not get anywhere while they persisted with their “mad obsession with gays, blacks and women“. It’s not the same thing of course, but the sentiment could be fruitfully rejigged for Waterford – we ain’t going anywhere fast if winning semi-finals remain a psychological barrier.

It was a happier weekend for the county teams, although if someone had said before Sunday that one team would win well while the other would squeak home, you would have put it down as happening to the hurlers and footballers respectively, not the other way around. One could charitably say that Wexford had their Oulart-the-Ballagh contingent back, but reading Giveitfong’s match report doesn’t inspire confidence. So let’s hear it for the footballers who stuck it to the team who beat them in the Division Four final and the Munster championship last year. The best result of the weekend coming from the big ball game. Who would’ve thunk?

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by deiseach - February 22, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Categories: All-Ireland, Football, Hurling, National League, Waterford   Tags: , , ,

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