Gorey Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - TOM’S HURL­ING

GO­ING INTO Par­nell Park last Sun­day, I had heard ru­mours of the re­ju­ve­na­tion of Pat Gil­roy’s Dublin charges af­ter an in­dif­fer­ent league. Train­ing was re­port­edly go­ing very well for the sky blues and they were hugely im­pres­sive in a re­cent chal­lenge game against Lim­er­ick.

A num­ber of the Cuala con­tin­gent were back on board and the re­turn of a few play­ers ex­iled dur­ing the Ger Cun­ning­ham era seemed to sug­gest that they wouldn’t be the can­non fod­der that many pre­dicted for Brian Cody’s league cham­pi­ons.

On a beau­ti­fully at­mo­spheric Sun­day in the tight con­fines of the north Dublin venue, the signs were cor­rect and the city men came away from a game that they most cer­tainly should have won.

It was a real smash and grab job from the team you can never write off.

Since the new for­mat and draws were an­nounced, I have been firmly of the opin­ion that our sea­son will de­pend to a great ex­tent on next Sun­day’s visit of the Dubs, and on the Par­nell ev­i­dence we have a mighty bat­tle ahead.

Dublin are phys­i­cally very strong with a half-back line to match any­thing in the coun­try at present. Shane Bar­rett and Chris Crum­mey are in­cred­i­bly strong un­der the drop­ping ball, and in the mid­dle Seán Moran plays the sweeper role (as also shown in the club cham­pi­onship) as ef­fec­tively as any­one around.

Given that Wex­ford will al­most cer­tainly go with the ex­tra de­fender, it will be quite a chal­lenge to find our way around a strong Dublin de­fence at the other end.

Up front their five for­wards, led by a bril­liant Liam Rushe, take quite a bit of stop­ping and the Dublin gi­ant’s bat­tle with our own Liam Ryan will go a long way to de­cid­ing the out­come.

Conal Keaney re­turned af­ter a two-year ab­sence and showed at 35 years of age with four points from play that he has lost none of his lead­er­ship abil­i­ties, and his in­jury was the ma­jor turn­ing point in the clos­ing stages.

If un­avail­able for Davy’s bat­tle it will be a se­ri­ous blow to his team. Dublin’s sea­son now very much hangs on their per­for­mance in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park, and the big ques­tion is how they re­act psy­cho­log­i­cally to los­ing a game they most cer­tainly should have won.

One ad­van­tage Dublin will have is a com­pet­i­tive game un­der their belt, and it is hard to as­sess our own form com­ing into the game.

The league semi sug­gested heavy legs within our camp and some­times when fac­ing into com­pe­ti­tion af­ter a lay-off it can be very hard to pre­dict form.

So in short, the game holds plenty of chal­lenges and one would hope that we have just enough to nick it. It’s go­ing to be an almighty bat­tle though and will no doubt go to the wire.

Since the new for­mat had been an­nounced I have voiced huge con­cerns about the rel­e­ga­tion clause in Le­in­ster, and now all of a sud­den all the pun­dits seem to have re­alised the con­se­quences.

No­body will con­vince me that it is for the good of hurl­ing that any of the five teams in the round robin should be rel­e­gated, and the task of re­build­ing hurl­ing in any of the coun­ties if not in the Le­in­ster cham­pi­onship would be a night­mare.

Add an­other county if nec­es­sary but this needs to be changed as there are few enough strongholds of the an­cient game with­out re­duc­ing one from the top tier.

As pointed out at the week­end, if Antrim win the Joe McDon­agh Cup we will only have three Le­in­ster teams in the cham­pi­onship next year. Now, that doesn’t make sense.

Hard luck to the foot­ballers and well done on a won­der­ful per­for­mance. I have no doubt that the cor­rect de­ci­sion was made on the penalty, but we should have made a big­ger ef­fort to break or dis­rupt the play from the kick-out.

Fi­nally, well done to my old friend John God­kin and North End on their in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment last Satur­day, fur­ther ev­i­dence that we have no peers as an all-round sport­ing county. Up Wex­ford.

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