So the first traditional hurling county ( would Laois people regard themselves as such, answers on a postcard ) has exited the championship. And without a whimper. Actually since we all often descend to using words we don't quite understand, we consulted the dictionary for a definition of 'whimper'. We found; 'make a series of low, feeble sounds expressing fear, pain or discontent'. Well it's probably likely that the only men who whimpered on Saturday were the Tipp players who came into close contact with the robust shenanigans of Stephen Banville and Tomas Waters.
So what's gone wrong with Wexford hurling. Well just as much focus should perhaps be paid on the Yellowbelly glories when things go right. After all before the uprising of the 1950's they were pretty much regarded as a football county. It's currently neck and neck down south-east way. And it is perhaps not commonly understood just how much of a dual opportunity employer your average Wexford club is, to the extent that many clubs in say, Offaly, Galway and Limerick wouldn't be. The mainstream media doesn't go out of its way to portray this, indeed Wexford are well used to getting kicks from some members of the scribe fraternity to their north-east. Yet on radio this week, when discussing their travails, former Kilkenny hurler John Henderson, to his credit pointed out that Wexford laboured under trying to keep both codes flourishing.
Whatever the reasons for Wexford's station, results at underage since, like, forever basically, don't indicate that matters will change anytime soon. Indeed the excellent Wexford teams through much of the 1990's weren't constructed with bountiful underage resources.
So what of the current rabble, and why they are at where they are at, as it were. Well, it may surprise those who looked at the bare scoreline on Saturday, but Wexford actually have a very decent back line. Part of the problem is keeping them fit. On Saturday Malachy Travers was missing, whilst Richie Kehoe and Paul Roche battled with knocks, to which Roche eventually succumbed. Even Keith Rossiter, who sadly battles injury too often, was only recently back from injury. But the fact that Dave Redmond, only just returned from Australia, was dragooned in to replace Travers reflected the wafer thin depth of the squad. At midfield Colm Farrell and Harry Kehoe battled away and both could contribute to Wexford's future but they were mostly outgunned. Ironically, one of the better midfielders of recent years Eoin Quigley was in purdah at wing-forward, trying to in vain to contain the point scoring machine David Young. Quigley is only recently back from serious injury and will hopefully be a crucial part of a Wexford renaissance; but the same can hardly be said about any of his forward compatriots bar Rory Jacob. True a case could be made that Jacob was the only one of the best six forwards in the county that was available to Colm Bonner on the day. But making too much of a deal about what the likes of Stephen Nolan, Stephen Doyle, Willie Doran and P.J Nolan may add would mask the real state of affairs: That a decent Wexford revival will need a paltry amount of loaves and fishes turned into a satisfactory feast. But all hands are now needed on the pump. With talk of Gizzy Lyng taking a year out due, partly, to weary resignation, perhaps some of the hero's of '96 are required to grist the mill.