Former Wexford hurler Diarmuid Lyng looks ahead to the clash against Waterford
"Some of the Dublin players can gauge how well they can perform, and for how long they can keep going to their maximum in Croke Park, by their exact weight and body fat."
So wrote Christy O'Connor in The Times on Wednesday in an excellent piece concerning the current culture in Dublin football.
Christy, a chara, meet John Moriarty.
"Unless there's wildness around you, something terrible happens to the wildness inside of you, It's not badness. Not a wildness where you have to break rules. It's just that you're not dominated and overwhelmed by who you sociologically are".
The former quote represents just one aspect of Dublin culture. Control the controllables. This is where Davy Fitz is at with Wexford. Culture creation. Start with a system that will minimise growing pains and become better at executing your system than everyone else is at executing theirs. Training harder and being fitter is a control mechanism. It builds cohesion and unity of purpose.
Wear same. Eat same. Drink same. Think same.
Waterford's Brian Farrell and Diarmuid Lyng of Wexford ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Know how long you can go for and waste no time wondering who you sociologically are.
Waterford graduated from this stage in 2015 with their League win. Derek McGrath successfully reined in the wildness in Waterford.
I loved playing Waterford. Especially in Fraher Field or Walsh Park. The fans. The players. The atmosphere. It was pure anticipation. It was all improv. Shanahan or Kelly were as likely to conjure up a goal from thin air as they were to be signing autographs with one hand, a baby in the other, all before the final whistle. It couldn't have been any more than it was. There was wildness around me and something powerful was happening to the wildness inside of me.
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
But Derek McGrath was bringing his boys on a mission and he instinctively knew that the individualism of the past could only be carried, if at all, by seasoned mavericks. Based on where he saw them going, which was undoubtedly right to the top, they would need more. They would need a system. They would need to master it. Which they did. And this provided the platform the prodigious young talent of Waterford required.
But against Tipperary last year reality crashed into the back of their net five times.
Sweepers are for teams in transition. Past that transitory time sweepers are a limiting force. They are for teams governed by fear. They've done the calculations and they believe the stats. But by adhering to the information presented they disallow the emergence of that which isn't presentable. The sweeper system represents the ultimate distrust in the potential of human beings. The system might win the game but ultimately it protects against the life shaping experience of dying with your boots on. It's a denial of the raw experience of a team becoming something greater than the sum of its parts.
The inconsistency in Waterford’s performances since that league win is the enactment of the great human narrative of systemic constriction meeting inherent wildness. Derek McGrath champions expression but it seems as though he fears that the unleashing of primal power will lead to a return to the individualism he inherited in October 2013.
The system is bulwark.
But the leopard in Austin Gleeson must have its say.
Wexford will perform because Davy Fitz knows that the type of effort he accepts as minimum will win most things in life. But wanting something more than the opposition will only be successful when you want it for reasons that reflect the combined constitution of the entire set-up, not because of the ideals of one strong character.
Waterford’s performance versus Kilkenny suggests they are finding the balance, their final ten minutes in abnormal time excluded.If there is space for them to engage their inherent wildness alongside, as opposed to within, their measured system, they will beat Wexford.
But anything short of that represents a breakdown in the manager/player philosophy. This is death knell.
Wexford don't need to worry about that because they're still completely focused on controlling the controllables.
As was the case with Waterford three seasons ago, it's enough for now.
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