The Irish Times
Chin up for taking a stab at Kilkenny dominance but county football is shelved
Wexford’s former dual player will focus on hurling to fulfil his ambitions
Wexford football will have to continue without the services of former dual player Lee Chin, possibly forever. The 23-year-old says his days of playing football at intercounty level are over – ruling out any return to the dual status he operated prior to the 2014 season.
It’s too much he says, to play both codes at the top level, and when it came to a decision between the two there was only ever going to be one winner.
“At this moment, I can’t see myself ever doing it again. I’m happy enough to keep tapping away with the club but not county. I never got the same pleasure out of playing football as hurling – the atmosphere, the love of the game . . . it’s different for me.”
Since making the decision to opt out of the county’s football squad Chin has flourished in half back and midfield roles for the hurlers – one of the leaders now in Liam Dunne’s young team.
“Hurling took over from an early age. I enjoyed my time in football . . . Jason Ryan brought a whole new level of professionalism into it. That appealed to me as young player. I’m happy that I gave it a go because it gave me a sense of what I wanted to do.
“But it’s hard enough trying to play the likes of Kilkenny when you’re concentrating on hurling only but it you try to combine it with football, it’s never going to work. That’s the way I see it.”
Chin had a incredible schedule in 2013, still an under-21 player he embarked upon a qualifier campaign for both the hurlers and footballers, that at one stage led to two games on the one day – although by then the workload had taken its toll and injury spared him the decision he would make outright a few months later.
“I loved every minute of the football under Jason but you can’t keep the two going at the level that’s needed nowadays. I thought I could do both – mentally and physically – but it didn’t really work out. I know I’ve made the right choice to stick with hurling.
“I knew when I left it in 2014 that I wouldn’t be going back to it. I never played too much underage football. It was mostly hurling but I just wanted to give football a go with Jason.”
Current Wexford football manager David Power has already been buoyed in his efforts to bounce back from a disappointing opening season by the likely return of midfielder Dáithí Waters, who had last year committed to the county’s hurlers, but for Chin the mind remains focused on hurling and a tilt at the Leinster championship.
“Winning Leinster would be huge for us. Wexford haven’t won it since 2004 – a very long time. It’s a long time since we were in Croke Park too. It’s hard to take that, that your own county haven’t been in Croke Park for so long.
“We’ll be there next year playing Dublin in the first round. It’s almost like you’re cheating the system. I always thought I’d get of chances to play with Wexford in Croke Park on a day we deserved to be there, in a Leinster final or whatever. But we’re looking forward to getting over pre-season in January and see where the season takes us.”
Talking at the GAA/GPA All Stars trip in Austin, Texas, the DIT student says that while 2015 was a season to forget, it also gives the team fuel for the year ahead.
“There’s a bit of a scar there from last year, the way we dealt with things. It’s something we have to try and put right next year. 2013 was a good year but last year was no reflection in where we see ourselves and where we want to go.”
Wexford shipped a 5-25 to 0-16 beating in the Leinster semi-final against Kilkenny, before an eight-point qualifier defeat to Cork.
“We thought we were moving well after beating Westmeath but we didn’t do ourselves justice at all against Kilkenny. We were disappointed after missing a chance to be promoted earlier on but it was nothing compared to the way we felt after losing to Kilkenny.
“It went pear-shaped against Kilkenny. They kicked on from the 42nd or 43rd minutes and we didn’t stick with them. Up to then, we were doing okay but we didn’t match them in the final quarter. We had has no answer to it. That really upset our year.”
Kilkenny, he admits, are at another level right now, but the key to beating them is belief. And so they’ll need plenty of that if they want to bridge their 12-year wait for provincial glory next summer.
“Yes, there’s a gap there. They have set a standard that everyone else is struggling to reach. Then you have another tier, maybe Tipperary, Galway and one or two others. That’s what we have to try and reach. On a given day, teams can match Kilkenny so that’s the aim . . . to reach a level where we can do that.
“It’s hard to tell what makes Kilkenny so good. They know how to win – we all know that.They have a ruthlessness and a determination which is hard to match. They never give up. If you’re going to beat Kilkenny it’s by a point or two.
“We have to develop that winning mentality . . . a killer instinct, especially in the final quarter. We need to believe that we can beat anyone, regardless of what’s between us at any any part of the game.”
‘‘ I never got the same pleasure out of playing football as hurling