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Rugby now the big threat in the battle for the hearts and minds of Wexford's young GAA stars

The county’s former senior hurling team manager, Tony Dempsey, has issued the stark warning.

Former Wexford senior hurling team manager Tony Dempsey.
Former Wexford senior hurling team manager Tony Dempsey.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

FORMER WEXFORD SENIOR hurling team manager Tony Dempsey has warned of the threat that rugby poses to the future of Gaelic Games in the county.

Dempsey, who also served as TD for Fianna Fáil from 2002-2007, is involved with his home club Davidstown-Courtnacuddy, where he’s involed with the club’s hurlers and minor footballers.

And Dempsey has revealed that rugby is now taking a firm hold on prospective young GAA stars.

The county’s senior hurlers have been riding the crest of the wave in 2017, with Davy Fitzgerald plotting promotion from Division 1B of the Allianz League while also masterminding a stunning victory over Kilkenny.

And the senior footballers gained promotion from Division 4 of the Allianz League, while also contesting a divisional final at Croke Park.

But Dempsey, speaking to the RTÉ GAA podcast, revealed: “I’m with my own club this year, Davidstown-Courtnacuddy, in hurling and minor football.

“You know, of our first 15 players in minor football, their first choice would be rugby.

Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

That’s new to rural Wexford, it’s new to Ireland. We have to become aware of the challenge of other sports and we have to make our games more attractive to the players.”

In some counties, the traditional dilemma has been a choice between hurling and football, but Dempsey has noticed a new challenge, that of rugby, in Wexford.

“We got to the semi-final of an all-county minor football League this year.

Four of our players, their first choice was rugby. That’s the reality. Now, what do we do about that? We make playing the games more attractive, we listen to the GPA, is there something we’re not doing that we should be?

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“I know the Wexford will have Dermot Earley (GPA CEO) down on Tuesday week to speak to the county board. We need to recognise the challenge of other sports and make our games more attractive than any other sports.”

Dermot Earley Dermot Earley is due to visit Wexford soon. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Meanwhile, Dempsey described Davy Fitzgerald’s decision to enter the Nowlan Park pitch yesterday as “nothing major.”

Current Wexford senior hurling team manager Fitzgerald is facing an anxious wait before learning if he’ll face disciplinary action from GAA chiefs.

Dempsey said: “I understand Davy’s passion but I think we have to be more realistic when it comes to managers.

“If something like that happens, a goal turns a game, it’s understandable that a manager will find it hard to remain calm in a situation like that. Poor oul’ Davy wouldn’t be the man he is if he didn’t react the way he did. I’m not saying he should have, obviously he knows he shouldn’t, but it’s nothing major.”

Source: RTĖ Sport/SoundCloud

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