Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Galway v Wexford

It's indicative as to where these two counties are at that John McIntyre had time to ruminate at leisure afterwards about the sending off of Andy Smyth. The Galway manager must be a godsend for put upon journalists, more used to parsing p.r guff from most banisteoirs. Unfortunately on this occasion his analysis contained the canard used with ever increasing frequency; that the perpetrator is not a malicious player. There's an arguable case that the Portumna player was unlucky to receive a red card. But why allowances should be made for any player on whom the red mist falls just because it's out of character isn't clear.

Even allowing for the insouciance with which they shot wides, it was a very satisfactory night out for Galway's continuing development. Colin Callinan showed the type of prowess that might have won some knife edge matches for Galway in the past. ( and at the other end Damien Fitzhenry was missed ) Donal Barry continues to intrigue although a physical wing forward will provide a more instructive test. Ditto Tony Og Reagan who benefited from Colm Bonner forgetting that most of Eoin Quigley's best hurling has been evinced at midfield. Still Regan did little wrong and he and Barry keep John Lee and Adrian Cullinane, integral members of Galway's '09 vintage, kicking their heels on the bench. McIntyre was typically astute to point out that David Burke and Aidan Harte kept shooting when it was prudent to so, despite any number of wides early in the game. A few cavils could be made. This writer, and he knows he's in the minority, remains to be convinced that Kavanagh, Collins and Farragher are top class when tested at the highest level. The first name has a dangerous tendency to play too much from behind at full-back, but he and Collins weren't in any way exercised by the opposition. If Farragher is going to be as profligate from play as he was on Sunday his overall worth could be a consideration, since big Joe can take over the place balls. Indeed if there's one convincing reason to plump for Galway in September it is that no team in recent history seems as bomb proof from frees, 65's and line balls.

As for Wexford. Ah poor old Wexford. This quarter had drawn ire in recent years for talking them up, almost needlessly. We mused that they never got the credit they deserved for the quality of their stick work in the middle of the last decade. And that they were too often damned for being run over by the big cat constantly in Leinster finals. Certainly they seemed fated to never be able to husband all their resources. Every year since what seems like forever not all the best players in the county have made themselves available, or in some cases been discarded. This season Stephen Nolan, Stephen Doyle and Doc O' Conner have, for various reasons, been marked absent. No sooner had Des Mythen and Barry Lambert strode the summer stage than unfortunate injury overtook them. Also Wexford could ill afford to be effectively without three of their best defenders, as they were for most of the match, with Paul Roche, Malachy Travers and Richie Keogh afflicted. Also a bit of heft that someone like Wille Doran could have provided at half-forward was sorely missed. But only so many excuses can be fermented to cover over the lack of talent that has trickled down from under age for years. Without naming names at least two of the yellowbelly combatants didn't look up to this level as yet. The capable David Redmond was press ganged into service in the early stages of the game, despite only recently returning from abroad. The manager also has to take his share of the flack. To send out his starting forward line in exactly the same positions as they started, with Stephen Banville palpably out of position, seemed fool hardy no matter how limited his options. Wexford have just about enough raw material to put the fear of god across someone later in the summer. But they'll need a very fair wind. What was depressing about last Saturday was that in giving them next to no chance the bookies were prophetic.

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