Brendan Hobbs son Jack, a member of last year’s U21 side, is facing hip surgery which could rule him out for the year. Devereux claimed Walsh had breached county training guidelines designed to help the three Wexford colleges sides and reduce the workload on youngsters.
“Being a parent of a promising young hurler who has represented Wexford with distinction at U14, U16, minor and last year’s Leinster U21 winning team,” said Brendan, “he is now under the care of Dr Pat O’Neill awaiting an appointment to go under a serious hip operation which will keep him out of hurling for at least a year.
“He [Jack] has been told one of his hips needs surgery and the lack of mobility is like what you would expect in a 70-year-old. The cause is wear and tear from playing too much sport and not having sufficient rest periods. His doctor said it was the worse case he’d seen of a player of that age.
“I am not blaming any one individual but the collective approach in my first-hand experience over the last eight years was to keep player welfare at the bottom of the agenda. As you [chairman] rightly point out many of our best young hurlers are also good at Gaelic football and at other sports and they are also picked for their schools and college teams. It is refreshing to hear a senior member of the county board bring this issue to the forefront and not just pay lip service to the problem. I admire you for having the courage to take the stance you did. I feel young hurlers in Wexford will prosper as the result of your actions.
“I have no issue with Heffo Walsh, he is a great GAA man but common sense must prevail, our young hurlers are the lifeblood of the game and our future success lies in their hands.”
Shocking as it is, the case is not uncommon. A number of young Wexford players have had long standing issues with injuries ultimately forcing them to undergo the knife.
St Anne’s clubman Liam Óg McGovern, one of the most promising forwards in the county in both hurling and football, underwent surgery on both hips early last year. Clongeen player Emmett Kent was beginning to earn a high profile in both hurling and football for his club, county and colleges, when hip problems brought a sudden halt to his progression.
Tomás Waters had put two hip operations behind him to bounce back on the inter-county scene, with a string of outstanding displays in his new-found role of full-back that saw him receive an All Star nomination.
County Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux, said they, as a county board, have a duty of care to their young players: “I can introduce you to young players who have double hip operations. I have heard Dr Pat O’Neill talk about this and what he said frightened me. At that stage it was something the orthopaedics were warning us about but now we are seeing it for ourselves.”