Even Dunne broke down after Griffin's team talk from the soul 4 months ago

Even Dunne broke down after Griffin's team talk from the soul

When he speaks, he speaks with the full-blooded conviction he hurled for 20 years with.

You won't get too much out of him and he won't knock you down with chat, but maybe that's the secret. Before you know it, you're hanging on every word and it's only when he's done talking, when you'll turn to the person beside you to say, 'Dunne is a gas man, isn't he?'

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Liam Griffin's Laochra Gael was a rip-roaring experience on Thursday night.

It took you from the depths of despair, when Griffin lost his own father to the suspense and the elation, as after years of soul-searching and a summer of unbelievable colour, Wexford won the 1996 All-Ireland.

Griffin himself is larger than life and it seems he always has been. Watching a Wexford team lose made him crawl under the bed and when he talks about the team he grew up on, when Rackard and Wheeler and the boys were living large, you'd be fit to start pucking ball in the kitchen.

If Griffin was the trailblazer in Wexford's hurling revolution, then the fiery Liam Dunne was one of the main foot-soldiers. As well as being one of the best wing backs in the country, the Oulart-the-Ballagh player was also an inspirational sort who became one of the team's most natural leaders.

As he re-called, with passion and raw emotion, the team talk that Griffin gave the Wexford players a fortnight before that September Sunday, it's easy to see why.

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It was in the 1995 National Hurling League when Limerick didn't just defeat Wexford, but bullied them off the field and in preparing his team for the biggest day of all against the old nemesis, Griffin started by reminding his players of what went on that day.

"It will go to the grave with me anyway," began Dunne.

"It's just the way he spoke. We were all linked and he hit everyone a box in the chest, and he looking at you straight in the eye.

"When he went around, he was on about the game and what happened to us, the way we were bullied. He said, 'The word going to Croke Park is that there will be no intimidation'.

"He just asked us what the word was, and everybody let a shout out, 'No intimidation'.

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"He went around to everybody, and he stopped with Tommy Kehoe."

By this stage, Dunne had to pause to gather himself. The pause lasted ten, fifteen seconds and you could see there and then the very best of the tribalism and the loyalty that our great games are built on.

"He put his two hands on Tommy's face, and he apologised to Tommy Kehoe. He said to him that what happened to him in Kilmallock would never happen to another Wexford man again as long as he had anything to do with a Wexford team.

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"He gave Tommy Kehoe a kiss on the side of the cheek, and gave him a tap on the chest. He just turned to the rest of us and just said, 'What's the word?' We said, 'No intimidation'.

The word was good.