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Wexford Selector's Post-Match Comments Were A Refreshing Change From The Usual Crap

Wexford Selector's Post-Match Comments Were A Refreshing Change From The Usual Crap

For Wexford, Saturday was an inauguration of biblical proportions.

As the white smoke billowed from Wexford Park, there stood Davy Fitzgerald at his pulpit in the press box, serenading the masses with waves, fist-pumps and windmills. The new saviour. Young Papa.

The guttural outpouring of emotion on Saturday evening came as no surprise; these were 15,000 or so people who had witnessed their church burn for 13 years, not so much tainted by scandal but more perpetually edging towards irrelevance.

But this was Wexford's day, and the reverberations were felt throughout the country. Fitzgerald's men had hinted that they were back during the spring. Versus Kilkenny on Saturday, they sprung from the traps, and rammed the point home both figuratively and literally.

In a free-for-all Championship thus far, Wexford's supposed upset differed from Cork's turnover of Tipp a in that it lacked Conor Lehane's understandable post-match pragmatism. There was none of the 'look, we're under no illusions, we've won nothing yet'. Instead there was only unadulterated joy, and Slaneysiders of both the playing and spectating persuasion - embracing the moment with no fear of jinxing the future, or indeed fear of featuring in the armchair psychologist's newspaper column on Monday morning, or being called out for something or other on Off The Ball.

Selector JJ Doyle put it best when, amidst the post-game mania, he told Malachy Clerkin in The Irish Times:

We’re a county of optimists. We’ve been disappointed on so many occasions. As a Wexford man, to see family and friends out there, to see so many people that I’ve grown up with, played with, played against, to see them with tears in their eyes, it makes all the wet nights we’ve put in over the last number of months worth it.

Listen, we’re going to enjoy this. We’re not going to go and say, ‘Listen lads, go home to your beds tonight'.

We have to enjoy it. Because, what’s the point of playing this game, having an occasion like that and a performance like that if you don’t go out and enjoy it?

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The fact that Doyle's comments make for a refreshing break from the norm - or perhaps the fact that he felt the need to make the point at all - strikes as an indictment on the culture of victory guilt which has engulfed the GAA since the advent of moneyless professionalism.

For the vast majority of squads, or 'groups' as they're now known, it's always about what's next, and rarely if ever about what's just been. The notion that Wexford would go out and celebrate a famous win seems novel when viewed through the prism of the modern era - and particularly with His Holiness at the helm.

Four days after Clare had beaten my native county in the 2013 All-Ireland final replay, I sat in an apartment drinking with both friends and friends-of-friends, one of whom was a Clare hurler who had heavily contributed to ruining my week. As we floored lukewarm cans and readied ourselves to piggyback on an All-Ireland winner's Coppers gold card, his phone went off.

'Text from Davy,' he announced.

'Lads, well done again. We've had our fun, and now it's about going again for next year'.

Attached in the message were fitness and dietary plans for the entire Clare squad, most of whom were still on the ran tan having won The Banner's first All-Ireland since 1997 just four evenings prior.

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'Fucking hell', he sighed. With a shake of his head, he duly necked the arse of a can of Carlsberg and suggested it was time to Hailo a few taxis.

I was only a student at that stage, but that moment - the hush that fell upon the room, the distraught look on the player's face, and the feverish necking of a manky can - stuck with me.

The last time I thought about it was around this time last year, and oddly enough, it was while listening to Bernard Brogan speak on Balls.ie's GAA podcast, The Hard Shoulder.

Anthony Moyles asked Brogan if the fact that he was sweating was down to the warm weather or celebrations after Dublin's Leinster final win over Westmeath.

Considering all we'd heard about Jim Gavin's setup to that point, and indeed the fact that it was 'only Westmeath', I was somewhat taken aback by Brogan's response:

We celebrated. You have to celebrate your wins. They don't come around every day. Sport is fickle, as you know. Every time you lift a bit of silverware you have to enjoy it.

I actually remember reading Johnny Wilkinson's books. His first book was about how he went kicking straight after the World Cup final and all this type of stuff. His second book was then saying how he regretted not celebrating his wins. He thought he was going to have 10 years of winning all round him, and then he got injured and he didn't get the career that he would have liked. He did all right! But he learned to celebrate your wins.

I'm a firm believer in going out for a pint and celebrating with your teammates.

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Incidentally, actively enjoying winning their 11th Leinster title in 12 years did not impinge upon the Dubs come September.

There might not have been silverware up for grabs for Wexford on Saturday, but it wouldn't be unfair to suggest that their first victory over their all-conquering neighbours in 13 years would trump Dublin's trouncing of relative minnows in terms of respective meaningfulness.

And you can be certain that a night out won't detrimentally impact the Fitzgerald's hurlers when they return to training this week, with any residual hangover likely to be triumphed by the high of the weekend's events.

It was a night which thousands of people from Wexford will remember for as long as they live. It's only right that the men who toiled for half a year to provide them with such a monumental moment should enjoy it as well.

SEE ALSO: Report: We Could Be In For A Diarmuid Connolly Suspension Saga After All

 

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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