The matches may be nearly over, but the work en­dures

Wexford People - - SPORT -

WITH AL­MOST ev­ery lo­cal cham­pi­onship com­pleted in both codes, ex­cept the Un­der-20 foot­ball cham­pi­onship and one hurl­ing fi­nal re­play in the same grade, it’s time for G.A.A. club of­fi­cials, se­lec­tors, play­ers, com­mit­tees and all as­so­ci­ated to take a break…if only.

Run­ning any sports club is a year-round cy­cle and, just be­cause the play­ing of games has ended, there is still no rest for the wicked.

Funds need to be raised, gen­eral meet­ings pre­pared for, and the con­stant trawl for play­ers and peo­ple to help out con­tin­ues. In some cases, teams are al­ready back in train­ing for next year.

Look­ing back on this year’s cham­pi­onships, they were ex­cit­ing and en­ter­tain­ing and threw up some un­ex­pected re­sults.

Shel­maliers fol­lowed through on the prom­ise and im­prove­ment shown this year and were de­served first time cham­pi­ons.

Af­ter an en­thralling drawn game, a dis­ap­point­ing re­play from a neu­tral point of view should not take away from their out­stand­ing achieve­ment.

On the same day Horeswood also de­served great praise for their im­me­di­ate re­turn to the Se­nior ranks af­ter just one year in ex­ile. I al­ways main­tain that the In­ter­me­di­ate cham­pi­onship is the most com­pet­i­tive and hard­est ti­tle to win, and to get Se­nior sta­tus back straight away shows great spirit and com­mit­ment in a club.

The New Ross Dis­trict side will be a tough prospect for any op­po­nent next year.

Naomh Eanna’s In­ter­me­di­ate ‘A’ ti­tle was only the dress re­hearsal for an un­be­liev­able first Se­nior hurl­ing ti­tle, which brought scenes of joy and cel­e­bra­tion that show what sport means to mem­bers and com­mu­ni­ties.

This was an amaz­ing achieve­ment by a club that is grow­ing rapidly and mak­ing waves at un­der-age level for the last few years. Know­ing the peo­ple in­volved, they won’t rest on their lau­rels and have am­bi­tious plans to win more Se­nior ti­tles in the near fu­ture.

Fethard also de­serve tre­men­dous credit for their In­ter­me­di­ate hurl­ing vic­tory. Af­ter a long cam­paign last year that brought them to the All-Ire­land Club fi­nal in Croke Park, a sec­ond cham­pi­onship ti­tle in a row is an­other bril­liant achieve­ment, show­ing the tal­ent and de­ter­mi­na­tion in that club.

So, de­spite the de­trac­tors, I think the lo­cal cham­pi­onships en­ter­tained us this year. Some­times observers lose sight of the level they are watch­ing.

We are all used to watch­ing live games on tele­vi­sion be­tween in­ter-county teams full of top class play­ers who are con­di­tioned like full-time ath­letes.

Then we go to a lo­cal cham­pi­onship match and ex­pect a fast­paced, er­ror-free spec­ta­cle of foot­ball or hurl­ing.

That’s not go­ing to hap­pen, yet we still com­plain about lack of qual­ity in play­ers, ref­er­ees and, of course, se­lec­tors and man­agers when our teams lose.

Sup­port­ers’ at­ti­tudes aren’t go­ing to change though; af­ter all, we are all ex­perts on the line and the post-mortems are part of the fun, and the blame game af­ter matches. It’s why we all keep go­ing back for more.

As most peo­ple know, some new ex­per­i­men­tal rule changes have been pro­posed to im­prove foot­ball as a spec­ta­cle. A max­i­mum of three con­sec­u­tive hand­passes, a sin-bin, a mark in­side the ‘20 if the ball is de­liv­ered from out­side the ‘45, side­line balls go­ing for­ward only, two play­ers only from each side be­tween the ‘45s for a kick­out…you put your left foot in, your left foot out, the only thing you don’t do is the hokey-cokey.

Oh my God, I don’t know if I’ll be a ref­eree next year. It’s hard enough at the mo­ment, but now we’ll have to carry an aba­cus to count passes, an ex­tra watch to time the sin-bin and kicks from the mark, a pair of ex­tra strong ear muffs to block out the ‘ex­perts’ on the line, and an ex­tra strong layer of thick skin to pre­tend the abuse doesn’t mat­ter.

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