Hurling Standard Sinks So Low We’ve Taken To Belittling Each Other

Posted on October 12, 2010

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If there was ever a sign that Wexford hurling was in serious trouble, it came in the form of Sunday’s County Final between bitter rivals Oulart-the-Ballagh and St Martins. Oulart ran out convincing winners but the standard, particularly in the first half was absolutely dreadful. The second half did not improve much but Oulart’s forwards pitched in with a few classy scores and a crucial goal after which, the reigning champions never looked back.

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Make no mistake, Oulart were the better team on the day, even with a total of 17 wides. But they were by no means convincing should you look at the greater scheme of things which is the All Ireland Club Championships. Admittedly, Leinster has been thrown wide open with the exit of kingpins Ballyhale Shamrocks of Kilkenny and Birr of Offaly, but Oulart will still need to improve drastically before their first Leinster fixture.

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What is perhaps more of a talking point than the match itself is the post match interview conducted with Oulart centre back Darren Stamp who left the field with a suspected double fracture in his hand.

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To me, the interview is negative, petty and an exhibition of winner’s one-upmanship. Everyone in Wexford knows of the tensions between these two clubs but the comments made by Stamp went beyond club rivalries. He managed to insult the entire hurling population of the county.

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Stating first that St Martins went out to kill the game, to “stop a hurling game” is accurate enough. I wonder though, if he has heard of tactics? After all, stopping the opposition from hurling is quite a widely used tactic in the game of hurling – it’s how Cork stopped Kilkenny doing 3-in-a-row early in decade and subsequently how Kilkenny denied Cork the same feat, though I would be wary to mention either of Sunday’s teams in the same breath as that Kilkenny or Cork team.

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Sometimes hurling isn’t pretty. Sometimes, it’s the ugly hurling that wins. Agree with that or not, you’ll find no naysayers among a camp who manage to win a match that way. When you don’t, as happened to the Martins, you invite criticism.

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The more insulting comment though, and one that should enrage the hurling communities of Wexford is this: “We don’t want to be handed county titles every year, but teams sitting back like that aren’t going to win anything.” Another dig at St Martins (we’re used to it at this stage) but also a collective dig at the rest of the hurling clubs in the county. “We don’t want to be handed County titles every year.”

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To me, this is utterly disrespectful of the rest of the hurling clubs in the county as well as being entirely detrimental to the overall state of our hurling scene. In a county where the standard of our county team is falling faster than Ireland’s credit rating, a remark like this is wholly inappropriate and damaging to the crumbling county scene we have at the moment.

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Belittling the rest of the county will not win you any friends and it will certainly not help the county scene. You would not hear a Kilkenny, Cork, Tipperary club captain saying what Stamp said on Sunday.

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Let’s make one thing clear here: Oulart will not save Wexford hurling. Wexford will save Wexford hurling. As a collective. But you cannot have a collective if you have the strongest member belittling the rest. These remarks are not good for Wexford hurling and Stamp, as a county player, should have realised that.

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As for the club championships, while I am disgusted with the remarks on Sunday, I remain a supporter of Wexford hurling and a good club championships run would do wonders for Wexford hurling (provided the belittling is remedied).

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Will I actively shout at the top of my lungs for Oulart in club championship?

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Certainly not. I’d have to wash my mouth out with soap.

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Will I attend the club game and any subsequent games?

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Yes, as stated above, if it’s good for Wexford hurling, I’ll follow it.

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Will I lose sleep if Oulart get knocked out in the first round?

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Don’t count on it.

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