The enforced break from collective training during the Allianz League following a Covid-19 outbreak was difficult for the Wexford camp, admits forward Lee Chin.
Two Wexford hurlers tested positive for the virus following the Round 2 win over Clare, just weeks after collective training was finally permitted to resume.
A third Wexford player was subsequently diagnosed, prompting the postponement of their tie against Kilkenny and preventing the group from training together for almost a fortnight.
“It was obviously a surprise,” said Chin of the Covid-19 episode which also forced two Clare hurlers into self-isolation. “No-one was putting themselves in any sort of position or situation to come down with the likes of Covid, it was just unfortunate for ourselves that we had it in the panel.
“It was tough after only getting back for two weeks of training to then have to take pretty much two weeks off and go back training by ourselves again. Yeah, it was a tough period.
There was a significant amount of time when we couldn’t get together and that’s not ideal when you are in the middle of a competition.
“It obviously stopped us getting together collectively but lads still went and got their work done individually, we just had to follow protocols, which everyone was in favour of.
“Obviously it wasn’t ideal, we’d have liked to have been together before the rescheduled Kilkenny game but these are the things that can happen in everyday life now and we just had to adapt.”
The identities of the Wexford players that contracted the virus were kept under wraps though Chin said they made full recoveries.
“As far as I know, they were okay and they didn’t have any serious illnesses. Once they got back into the panel they were in great spirits and in great form,” said Chin at the launch of Centra’s Community Matters campaign.
Talisman Chin himself played in all five of Wexford’s Division 1B games, taking the frees and featuring in a novel full-forward role at stages.
“Against Kilkenny, Jack O’Connor dropped back to half-back, against Clare and a couple of games I was at full-forward, it’s all experimental stuff,” said the Faythe Harriers man. “You’re working around different things and trying guys out in different positions, I think that’s what we got out of the league.
“If Davy Fitzgerald believes that’s where I can contribute, that’s where it will be. Personally, I would prefer to be outfield more but it’s what’s best for the team and it was nice to go in and try a different position and it could happen in the Championship.
“If you don’t try these things in the league, come Championship it would probably be a bit of a shock to me. So I’m happy enough I got a bit of game time there.”
Wexford ultimately finished second in 1B, pulling off wins over Laois, Clare and Dublin though surprisingly drawing with Antrim.
Fitzgerald used 29 different players — including three different goalkeepers — with starts for Gavin Bailey, Conal Flood, Conor Hearne, Mike Dwyer, Glen Malone and Conor Devitt throughout the campaign.
“I think we have got enough out of it in terms of extending the panel and trying new lads,” said Chin.
“When we got back collectively one or two guys picked up injuries fairly quickly and we were short lads who were around for the last number of years so I suppose it was a bit of a setback that way.
“A lot of lads got game time who wouldn’t have got game time before. We found a couple of different players and in that sense we got a lot out of it.”