IF THE televised game last Friday night in the Wexford SHC was a taste of what’s to come over the coming months we could be in for some thrilling games.
TG4 was first up with this game in the increased coverage between themselves and RTÉ and it certainly did not disappoint.
The game featured the reigning Wexford champions St Martin’s and Oulart the Ballagh, a club name of very high standing on the national stage.
It produced eight goals and 35 points with the victory going to St Martin’s on a scoreline of 5-19 to 3-16.
St Martin’s are managed by John Meyler and that gave the game a nice dimension for Cork fans who might have tuned in to watch the proceedings.
Cork’s boss for the past two seasons before Kieran Kingston returned to the fold was back on his native turf on Slaneyside.
Meyler is a top, top hurling man, a proven manager and coach, both at club and inter-county level and his gospel has been spread far and wide.
He might well be on to another winner here with St Martin’s and from a TV viewpoint, their performance in this game was very impressive.
The five goals that the put past Oulart, a team coached by former Wexford great were shared by two players, Wexford senior star Jack O’Connor with two and that was bettered by Jake Firman who raised three green flags.
Dunne’s son Billy featured on the Oulart team as did Tommy and Marin Óg Storey, a nephew and son of the great man himself, Martin.
Another former inter-county manager, Derek McGrath is in charge of another Wexford club team, Faythe Harriers, and that all adds up to what might be a very interesting championship.
The game had a national audience but only 200 people were allowed in to watch the game in Wexford Park.
The TV pictures suggested that there wasn’t a great deal of social distancing going on in the stand in a few instances but then again they might have been all from the one family.
Meyler, in an after-match interview, suggested that it would have been easily possible to accommodate more people in the ground, a ground with a capacity of up to 30,000 and he was quite right.
At the time of writing it will be a similar story here on Leeside next Saturday night week when the Glen face the ‘Barrs in the Cork SHC, just 200 being allowed to watch the game in the flesh.
And included in that 200 are team officials, stewards, media and so on.
So taking all that into account, there will be around 100 or maybe fewer supporters in to watch.
By the time this article appears in print that may be changed to 500 but that is unlikely.
Now one can see the justification for the lower number being allowed into some rural club grounds but in a venue like Weford Park or Páirc Uí Chaoimh surely it would not take a huge effort to accommodate up to a thousand or even more.
Of course, what it all means is that the very restricted numbers are going to create nightmares for club officials and how they are going to distribute the small number of tickets.
That’s going to be very stressful and Cork chair Tracey Kennedy made it very clear over the weekend that anybody turning up without a match ticket would have no chance of gaining entry.
One club official made a lot of sense during the week when he suggested that they would be better off playing games behind closed doors altogether because he said that trying to distribute 80 or 100 tickets in a club is going to cause friction with supporters.
We will have to wait and see how it all pans out and at all times we are fully aware that health and safety is of paramount importance.
Back to that game last Friday night in Wexford Park, it was hugely entertaining and at the same time very open, maybe too open at times, a point acknowledged by Meyler afterwards.
With the number of supporters now attending games so restricted it goes without saying that viewing figures on TV are going to soar for the games that will be going out live.
Live streaming of games by county boards is going to help too to alleviate the situation of not being able to go in and watch the game on the terrace or in the stand of a ground.
The paltry attendance in Wexford Park did not seem to affect the players of both teams.
They just got on with it, produced a fine game that was embellished by some terrific scores, two of them expertly converted penalties by Jack O’Connor.
Let’s hope tthat when the Glen and ‘Barrs collide we’ll get an equally fine game of ball.