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Friday 15 December 2017

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Improved performances from Model ace Chin suggest elite dual career is a thing of the past

IF the misfiring of Cork's dual trio in the Munster SFC was admissible only as circumstantial evidence of the debilitating affects of playing both codes in the same inter-county summer, surely the performances of Lee Chin have served as cold hard fact.

"I would put it down to the fact that he's giving everything to hurling this year," says Declan Ruth, briefly a member of the Wexford football squad prior to his call-up to the hurlers in 1997.

"But it's not just the first touch and the skill, it's the reading of the game. It's experience. It's everything included.

"There's no doubt the potential was always there but to use the analogy, if you're comparing yourself against the very best; which is Kilkenny, the guy there is having a hurl in his hand every second day whereas you're having it, at best, every second day or a third day if you're dual.

"So he's going to get better whereas you're only going to get gradually better. So there is a difference."

Besides anything else, Ruth argues, Chin's exclusivity to Liam Dunne's has meant the Wexford manager entrusting the Faythe Harriers man with a spot in midfield on the basis that, unlikely last year, he'll be available for every match.

"When he was wing-back and centre-back, he wasn't as effective, maybe making isn't his strongest suit," he points out.

"But he has a massive engine and if you tell him to go and grab ball and move and drive forward; to me, that's his biggest attribute.

"When he decides to take off and go forward, he's a massive asset. Because you might not be able to catch him from behind so someone's going to have to come forward.

"He creates overlaps and he's so fast that sometimes he just gets into positions to be able to take his own scores.

"Michael Fennelly is another fella who's great at doing that. As a back, you don't know whether to go to him and leave your man or just hope that someone is going to catch him.

"He has such a drive that he is a very hard man to combat."

attributes

So even if Chin has the physical attributes to pour into two sports, from a skill and time vantage point, it's too great an ask.

Ruth agrees: "I just don't think it can be done. You might be able to make a stab at it for a year. But if you're really being truthful, you're letting something go either side, whether that be in hurling or football.

"It just can't be done. There's too many games. It's just too intense. Before, in the 90s, it was straight knock-out. So there were less games. But it can't be done now."

Chin, it seems, is also blessed with the calm nerve of a player who captained his county to a landmark Leinster Under 21 title last year and has the winning scent in his nostrils.

Similarly, you couldn't but be impressed with the maturity with which he handled the racial verbal abuse he suffered and his willing and articulation in speaking publicly on the subject

"He has spoken a few times after games and everything is exactly the way you hope," Ruth acknowledges.

"There's no rhetoric. It's all sensible stuff. And that's in keeping with the development. Every time he goes out, he gets better."

He's not the only one.

If last year launched the careers of Podge Collins, Tony Kelly, Shane O'Donnell et al, this summer has largely been about Chin, Conor McDonald, Liam Óg McGovern and their like.

Undoubtedly, playing four games has helped spring those and others to the national hurling conscious.

Dumping the All-Ireland champions out over 180 minutes didn't hurt either.

But there's also something compelling about the way Wexford have hurled this year.

"As Clare proved last year…if you can win it this year, win it," Ruth stresses.

"Don't wait until the third year of your masterplan.

"I very much believe that the lads are of the mindset that now is the time to strike.

"Just because they're young or just because they're two years into a four year plan or whatever it might be, that doesn't mean it's not a real opportunity.

pressure

"Limerick are in their second season. The pressure is on them to go better than last year, not on Wexford.

"But now is the time to strike. Let's win this match, get back to Croke Park and take that step when it comes to it."

It has even been ventured that Wexford are only a little straighter-shooting away from All-Ireland potential.

"What I like about them is, they're taking on the man. If there's an opportunity to go for goal, they're taking it on. And they're going for the jugular.

"Yes, if they're going to win an All-Ireland, they need to cut out the wides. But you look at Clare against Wexford last year in that qualifier game; they had upwards or 19 or 20 wides.

"But they kicked on from there. After they beat Wexford, their wides went down below 10 and kept sinking. And I think everybody identifies that.

"If Wexford are to win an All-Ireland," Ruth concludes, "that's what they have to do."

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