Lack of preparation time concerns Dunne
Four full rounds of club activity left hurlers with less than two free weeks
Liam Dunne has expressed his concern at the lack of preparation time for their provincial championship showdown with Dublin in Croke Park this Saturday (7.15 p.m.).
Wexford have had full rounds of football and hurling championship games (two rounds in each code) over the past number of weekends, leaving the hurlers with less than two weeks of preparation to take them into the Dublin game.
Wexford now look in 'big trouble' as they look ahead to their biggest game of the year so far, with Dunne now looking likely to be short six to seven first choices, a crisis that is sure to stretch the squad.
And now Dunne, having watched so many players fall by the wayside, has seen the goals set dismantled with an unprecedented injury crisis that is sure to rock the confidence of the camp.
While Shaun Murphy (shoulder), David Redmond (hip/groin), and Andrew Shore (cruciate knee injury) had already been ruled out of consideration, the camp was further rocked on Thursday when Lee Chin, having been forced off during last Tuesday's challenge with Cork, was later diagnosed with medial knee ligament damage following a scan at Santry Sports Clinic. The injury, which requires two to three weeks' rest and rehab, has sidelined the Faythe Harriers clubman from the game.
Also ruled out of contention are Aidan Nolan, who also received the heartbreaking news of knee ligament damage at the Santry Sports Clinic, leaving him out of hurling for four to six weeks, and Ian Byrne who damaged a calf muscle in a club championship game and is also out of action for two to three weeks.
Askamore clubman Shane Tomkins, who has been unable to train for the past three weeks, has only a 50/50 chance of making the game owing to a troublesome knee problem. And it went from bad to worse on Sunday at training when James Breen of Adamstown, who was expected to make his championship debut at corner-back, sustained a hamstring injury.
Now Dunne is questioning playing a round of championship games less than two weeks before their championship quarter-final with Dublin.
'I have always been an advocate of club games and players going back to their clubs, but within reason. Common sense should have also prevailed as playing this latest round of club games left us with less than two weeks to prepare for Dublin,' he said.
'I understand club championships have to be played but there was little common sense exercised in the fixing of the last round of fixtures. After the Dublin game, should we lose there is a six-week gap to the qualifiers, or even should we reach the provincial semi-final it would still leave a gap when this round of championship games could have been played.
'We met up in the Ferrycarrig Hotel on the Sunday evening (after the club games). It was like a casualty ward as we had four treatment tables on the go,' he revealed.
'Players had already played championship hurling that weekend. Then we played Cork in Dungarvan on Tuesday evening in a much-needed game to get the players together. It was a worthwhile workout, despite losing by 0-16 to 1-11, in dreadful conditions of rain and wind. I was well pleased with the game but the later news of Lee Chin's injury left us feeling devastated.'
Now Dunne is continuing his side's preparations for the Dublin game despite the injury crisis that has hit the camp.
'What's happened, has happened. The injuries are there, now it's an opportunity for other players to step up to the mark, it's their opportunity.
'We expect to go to Croke Park and perform although it has been made more difficult for us. All of this won't have changed our feelings towards the game. The players are prepared as well as possible, are focused and prepared to battle.
'There will be plenty of talk but I don't buy into the negativity. We will take a positive approach with us to Croke Park. Dublin are difficult at the best of times, and outside of Wexford they will be the warmest favourites, but it's not always the favourites that win.'
One can sense the frustration of Dunne as after long winter months of preparation he has been dealt such a hand on the eve of their championship return to Croke Park.
Wexford took injury-hit sides into both the Clare and Waterford league games. Now they will have to perform to the same level to mount a serious challenge.