'We are devastated'

Dunne at loss to explain collapse

Brendan Furlong

Published 23/06/2015 | 00:00

Kieran Joyce of Kilkenny evades Conor McDonald who will be back in action with the Under-21s in Tullamore on Wednesday
Kieran Joyce of Kilkenny evades Conor McDonald who will be back in action with the Under-21s in Tullamore on Wednesday

It was the longest day of summer but it was also the longest, most trying day of their season to date for Wexford Senior hurlers and management.

Following some time behind closed doors trying to digest what had gone so horribly wrong, Wexford players eventually trudged from the dressing-room with solemn faces, clearly distraught by what had hit them in the 70-odd minutes on the green sward of Nowlan Park.

Manager Liam Dunne spoke to his charges with his call to arms: 'we will now see what we are made of'.

Kilkenny boss Brian Cody was more enlightening when speaking to the Model county players.

'Last year you beat the All-Ireland champions, you beat Waterford. Today you suffered a heavy defeat but you will have to learn from that. You are good hurlers and you will have days like that as you're a young team.'

Team captain, Matthew O'Hanlon, was more forthright in his call to his colleagues.

'Are we going to make this the end of our year? We'll come back to training on Tuesday with the answer.'

When Dunne eventually emerged from the dressing-room he flashed a rueful smile. After such a display and a 25-point drubbing, one did not expect much.

'We were fierce unlucky, weren't we?,' the manager responded when asked for his assessment of the match by the waiting journalists. But he seemed at a genuine loss to explain what really went wrong, what ultimately led to the heaviest defeat to Kilkenny for 84 years in a provincial championship game.

Speaking to people on the team bus, one got the feeling the mood was good, and confidence was with the players on delivering a huge performance.

But what went so wrong?

'We came up here to win the game and we are going home with our tail between our legs again. We are very disappointed, we are devastated. We expected a lot of ourselves. We felt that we prepared very well but obviously some things just weren't right,' Dunne said.

With Kilkenny producing a sizzling game of attacking hurling, it was evident from a very early stage that here was a Wexford team in serious trouble, with a defence all over the place.

'Yeah, Kilkenny were very good on the day. We had no answer to them and conceded three goals in the first-half. We kept tipping away in the first-half scoring points but we needed goals as well, but didn't get them.'

The spine of this Wexford defence has been built around an axis of Liam Ryan (right full-back), Matthew O'Hanlon (full-back) and Lee Chin (centre-back), but for some reason this failed to materialise as the trio were deployed in different key roles in such a huge contest.

'Conceding three goals against Kilkenny in the first-half, that's difficult to come back from any day. We created two really good goal chances, didn't take them and were still only six points down. But Kilkenny are Kilkenny. They are not All-Ireland champions for nothing,' Dunne added.

'It's a big hole that we have found ourselves in here in Nowlan Park but we are back out on July 4. I'm sure all the other teams will hope to draw Wexford, but we will just have to dust ourselves down and get on with it.'

As the All-Ireland champions woke from their twelve-week slumber, their last competitive game being the relegation play-off with Clare, for Wexford it's once again the scenic route - the qualifiers, and a home game against Cork on Saturday week.

Wexford People

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