Anthony relishing new role

Dean Goodison

Published 19/11/2016 | 00:00

Recently-retired Wexford football goalkeeper Anthony Masterson who will now manage the ladies' team
Recently-retired Wexford football goalkeeper Anthony Masterson who will now manage the ladies' team

Former Wexford goalkeeper Anthony Masterson was ratified as the new county ladies' football manager at last week's County Board meeting in the Ferrycarrig Hotel.

The Castletown clubman, who played over 90 times for Wexford, has been managing his club's ladies' side for the last three years.

The appointment of a respected local footballer is a departure from the last manager, Shane McCormack, himself a former inter-county goalkeeper with his native Kildare. Masterson has already put in place several members of his backroom team.

Adrian Sheil (Crossabeg-Ballymurn) is coming into the set-up as a selector, with a female selector to be named in the coming days. Paddy O'Sullivan (Clonard) will do pre-season coaching with the squad while Daniel May is appointed strength and conditioning coach. Denis Fitzpatrick (Castletown) is team administrator.

Player-wise, Masterson has started the ball rolling already. Upwards of 40 footballers have been invited into a pre-Christmas training panel on a trial basis. After four to five weeks of training, numbers will be whittled down to an initial squad of 30.

The new boss is looking forward to the challenge: 'There's two big jobs in football in Wexford, the Senior ladies' football job and the Senior men's,' Masterson said. 'When the offer came in to go and interview I didn't really think twice about it after I had retired.

'Some people asked was it just there to fill the void of not playing? It is definitely nothing to do with that, it's something I am passionate about, Wexford football, whether it's ladies or men. I couldn't turn it down really, it's something I felt hungry about.

'I've seen the girls over the last few years, I've been to various matches, I try to support them as much as I can and in my eyes they are on the verge of a breakthrough if they can go to the next level. I'm hoping that I'll be the person to take them there.'

Wexford, under Masterson's guidance, will begin their league Division 3 campaign in late January or early February, with the Leinster and All-Ireland Intermediate championship following on in the summer months.

Meanwhile, on the camogie front, John Kelly (St. Ibar's/Shelmalier) and Matty Flynn-O'Connor (Duffry Rovers) are currently a few steps ahead of their football counterpart, having been in place last season. They have taken on the role of joint-managers for the Senior and Intermediate sides for this coming year and are currently looking for players.

This Friday (November 18) and next, they are taking a look at potential players in practice games. While the official closing date to be considered for the trial squads is passed, interested parties should contact management.

With the same management over both squads, it will allow Wexford to go back to a tried and tested arrangement of all adult county players training together, a system that worked well for the Slaneysiders on their All-Ireland run between 2010 and 2012.

Elsewhere, at under-age level, numbers and interest seem to be up. Over 70 Under-16s attended a trial with the management of Neil Cullen (Castletown-Liam Mellows) and Clare O'Leary (Rathnure) last week as they look to hone their squad ahead of the new season.

Enthusiasm in the Under-14 age group is even greater, with manager Noel McSweeney (Kilrush) having hosted three academy sessions with over 200 girls in the programme. Trials for the two county teams next year will commence in the coming week.

Others involved in the management of the Under-14 sides are Donnacha Kerins, Nick Finn, Meghan Roche, Geraldine Curtis, Shauna McSweeney, Mick Kelly and one more to be named in the coming days.

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