New low for Wexford hurling

Senior hurlers lose to Carlow for first time in history

BRENDAN FURLONG Sports reporter

AS 'Black Sundays' for Wexford G.A.A. go, the Model county hurlers have been left to pick up the pieces after their stunning defeat to Carlow in the Allianz National League Division 2 game at Dr. Cullen Park.

But manager Colm Bonnar (below) has insisted that the players must get their act together in a desperate bid to keep their promotion hopes alive and hopefully qualify for the final.

With Kildare and Antrim at home, and Laois sandwiched in between in Portlaoise, it could be a tall order, particularly as Laois are clear of Wexford on points as are Carlow, with Clare topping the group. This is a frightening statistic for Wexford hurling when they are unable to take full points from the minnows of the game.

'It's a case of having to move on from here. It was a bit of a disaster losing to Carlow, but credit to them, they showed more commitment, mo re determination, were ahead of us hurling wise. They were much sharper and stronger in the battle for possession. Too often they came out of the tussle with ball in hand,' said a clearly stunned Bonnar.

'I think the situation is still retrievable,' he added. 'I think if we win our last three games we can survive and qualify for the final, but it could also be dependant on Carlow's results as they have Clare at home on Sunday next.

'We have to re-group and get our act together if we are to get back into it. At the moment we are just hurling in patches. Against both Westmeath and Down we only came into the game in patches. Against Clare only when the game seemed gone from us did we start hurling.

'We played Tipperary last Thursday night in an effort to sharpen our hurling.'

The consequences of this result need little explanation. It was the first time ever for Carlow to defeat Wexford in Senior inter-county hurling, and there's no doubt in anyone's mind that this defeat could be a disaster for the county.

It brings us back to 1995 when Wexford lost to Meath in the league in Bellefield, or worse still, 1984, when the county's loss to lowly Roscommon in the Centenary Cup led to an emergency County Board meeting being called within 24 hours such was the fall-out from the weekend shenanigans.

While Bonnar believes that there's no point flying in MarchApril, he still hopes that the defeat will not have done lasting damage to their league aspirations.

'We have been concentrating on gym work but still thought our hurling was up sufficiently to defeat Carlow. But right now we will have to let our hurling do the talking in our remaining three games. We are also struggling for goals, like last year, something we will need to address.'

Bonnar and his backroom team held a lengthy meeting in the aftermath of this debacle. 'We met after the game and discussed it in an effort to iron out our problems. We will not be altering the panel for our final three games.

'We just have to get out there and take maximum points. Hopefully that will get us through.'

Both Keith Rossiter and P.J. Nolan look likely to miss Sunday's Kildare game, while Rory Jacob ('flu) and Tomás Waters (groin) should be available. An added boost is that Eoin Quigley is returning to training this week.

This is one of the biggest challenges facing the team management, but an even bigger one for the players, who right now must stand up and meet it head on.

Bonnar is not the problem, no more than John Meyler was the problem.

The restoration of Wexford as a hurling force now rests with the players. MATCH REPORT: 82 AND 83

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