Leinster SHC

Wexford v Offaly

Saturday, Wexford Park, 7.00
(fixture provisional)

We assumed this pairing, co-authors of so many stirring contests during the 1980s and '90s, had reached an all-time low when they fought out a championship encounter of 17 points and no goals on a perfect Nowlan Park afternoon three years ago. The curtainraiser at Semple Stadium three weeks ago demonstrated how wrong we were. It was the reverse negative of one of those afternoons where the brilliance of the hurling match on the undercard highlights the awfulness of the football that follows. Here the bad football match opened proceedings and turned out to be a hurling match.

There was, of course, a legitimate excuse in that the protagonists had spent springtime in Division Two. Which or whether, the damage has been done to Wexford. The league final, with its guarantee of top-flight fare next season, was the match to win. Next Saturday amounts to little more than a footnote.

It scarcely needs remarking that the losers ought to have spent as much time in front of the mirror as on the training field since 3 May. Where was the guile? Where was the craft? Above all, where were the sound and the fury and the righteous anger? These, remember, were the players who decided that John Meyler wasn't up to their lofty standards. On the basis of their showing against Offaly it was pretty apparent who was unworthy of whom.

And no, they don't have to win next Saturday; the bird has flown. But might they resolve to do the decent thing and at least die with their boots on?

Verdict Offaly