Value of attracting big-name bosses already clear to see
Published 14/01/2017 | 00:00
Wexford will be anxious to avoid the pitfalls of past seasons and build on a winning start.
Wexford have not always handled that aspect well, so one fully understands Davy Fitzgerald's determination to keep a lid on expectations.
When the former Clare manager assumed the managerial role in Wexford he was well aware of that expectation in the Model county - the implications of which can run right through management to players.
But Fitzgerald is determined to guide his players through all this pre-season hype. A lot of people would say the players would be driven by this, but Fitzgerald knows there is much more to encounter on the long road which Wexford has to travel.
The success which former Chairman Diarmuid Devereux achieved in attracting Davy Fitzgerald to take charge of the Wexford Senior hurlers has been acclaimed in the county. This was further evident on Sunday afternoon when some 3,000 supporters descended on Páirc Uí Shíocháin for the side's facile Walsh Cup victory over U.C.D.
Not forgetting the footballing set-up, Seamus McEnaney's decision to return to inter-county management with Wexford has also been hailed as a boost for the game in the county. Never before has Wexford had such a high-profile duo at the helm of their inter-county teams.
As he related the challenges that lie ahead for his players in his post-match interview, one still could sense an amount of satisfaction in Fitzgerald's comments, despite still looking ahead to more serious challenges in the weeks and months ahead.
The implications being that Fitzgerald wants no early pressure brought on his players, not even when the National League and possible promotion is mentioned.
He is quick to relate Wexford's failure to win promotion over the seasons, while also stating that Division 1B this year is more competitive than he has ever seen.
As he noted, the Wexford men have a considerable amount of work to do, the implications being that training will be stepped up considerably in preparation for the championship and a possible home clash with reigning provincial champions, Kilkenny.
While the two opening National League games, home to Limerick and away to Galway, will pose huge tests, Fitzgerald and his backroom team will have their sights set on laying down markers.
I have no doubt Fitzgerald is determined to come up with at least one victory from those which would keep league expectations alive.
The effort in attracting Fitzgerald to Wexford has already proved worthwhile as it has lifted the game of hurling in the county.
From mothers and fathers, right down to young sons and daughters, they have rowed in behind Davy who by now must be the most photographed manager in the country.
Just a thought: wouldn't it be a wonderful gesture for Wexford to have passes distributed to all primary schools in the county for that opening league outing with Limerick. It would bring a real atmosphere to Innovate Wexford Park while also getting the young supporters behind their heroes.
With all the emotion surrounding the hurlers. it would be easy to forget the efforts of our footballers under the management of Seamus McEnaney.
The Monaghan man has worked hard with his squad over the past two months, resulting in a new-found appetite and commitment among the players. This was particularly evident in their O'Byrne Cup draw with U.C.D.
There will be no rest for players in the squad, the majority of whom are playing for places in the new manager's team for the National League. League promotion must be the initial goal of the new boss, and he looks to have his players moving in the right direction.
It was a busy weekend on the G.A.A. playing front, with the Wexford combined schools recording a huge victory over Westmeath in the Leinster Colleges Senior hurling 'A' championship.
Following the short winter recess it was great to be back on the sidelines for competitive action, far away from the backroom comedy of the previous few months.
On a final note, congratulations to long standing referee and retired Garda Sergeant, Seamus Whelan, on being selected as the new Chairman of the Wexford G.A.A. referees, replacing John Rossiter.