Lee Chin has a routine after games, even Walsh Cup matches, of reviewing them to death, parsing and dissecting the footage to wring out every last morsel of information and learning.
Since their All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tipperary, however, he’s only watched that game back once.
“For some reason, I just can’t turn it back on,” said Chin.
Five points up, a man up, they eventually lost by two. Suddenly their breakthrough season that yielded a provincial title didn’t seem so worthy of celebration.
“Some of the hurling we did in the 50, 55 minutes of that game was some of the best hurling we’d done all year,” said Chin.
“You’re watching it back, it’s great to watch. Then it (the decline) starts and you’re thinking, ‘Oh no’. The last 15 minutes are very hard to watch. That’s sport. That’s hurling. You move on. But these things do have an effect, it takes certain people time to move on.”
Months on, and now the proud owner of an All-Star award, Chin can acknowledge that it actually was ‘a great year’ for Wexford. Diarmuid O’Keeffe got an All-Star too while eight players in total from Wexford were nominated having not previously received a hurling All-Star since Damien Fitzhenry’s in 2004.
Whatever about O’Keeffe being honoured, the Chin story is most remarkable. He was born in 1992, a few years after his father arrived in the country from Malaysia without a word of English, to work in a family restaurant in Wexford. Growing up, Chin was encouraged to play all the sports; soccer, hurling and football — his mother didn’t fancy boxing — and ended up representing the county’s senior teams in all codes, if you include League of Ireland activity with Wexford Youths.
“My mother was dropping me to a bar to meet a couple of the club lads after the announcement that I had received an All-Star and she was getting emotional in the car,” said Chin. “People would know me for who I am now but for her, something like this reminds her of when I was a kid, climbing up door frames and stuff. It brought her back to those memories of when I was a kid and it’s funny that things like this can do that, you know.
“She was mentioning it to me in the car that night, she just kept saying, ‘I’m so proud of you’ and I just wanted her to recognise how proud she should be of herself because there’s all those things that they do, as parents.
“That’s what I’m talking about, it means so much for them and I was so happy for them because it’s just not possible without the parents, and the club, and it’s what I tried to get her to understand because she wasn’t seeing that side of it.
“I run out onto the field and I play and this year I had performances that led to me getting an All-Star. But it was what she was doing in the background for me to achieve that stuff and it wouldn’t have been possible without her. Sometimes they don’t see that stuff. I think this is why we had that moment.”
O’Keeffe, born in the same year, was a constant companion throughout the journey up through the Wexford ranks.
That journey is far from complete and after Saturday’s Aer Lingus sponsored New York Hurling Classic at Citi Field, the Wexford joint captain will start to lay down the foundations for what he hopes will be an All-Ireland winning season in 2020.
“It would be foolish of me to say, ‘this is our goal at the end of the year’ or ‘that is our aspiration’,” said Chin.
“Obviously we have those but the reason for the little bit of success we had this year was having short-term goals and we just put everything into achieving those short-term goals.”
What’s certain is that Davy Fitzgerald will be in charge again, for a fourth season. Chin thought at certain stages the Clare man may not recommit.
“It was coming in waves, one day I’m thinking, ‘No, no, I just don’t think he’s going to leave’ and then there were other days that might come around and I thought, ‘Jesus, it doesn’t look good. I think he’s gone’. Coming closer to the time, I actually felt he was gone. But then every time we had a conversation I just felt better about it. I felt, ‘Jaysus no, the mood is a bit different now’.”