Display against Carlow men was pathetic to watch
Wexford's strength in depth was tested. They were forced to shuffle the pack but few would have predicted such a lacklustre display in this four-point Senior football championship defeat to Carlow.
The final whistle, was still practically echoing around the ground, Carlow were celebrating a first championship victory over Wexford since 1996, while the Model county were left crest fallen, now facing into the qualifiers with confidence shattered, their dismal finish to the national league continuing, and this a big step backwards, for it demonstrated this side has a long way to go.
Defeat feels worse when it's so largely self-inflicted. Yes they lost their midfield pairing early in the first half, but there is the so called mantra one hears so often, 'squad strength'.
This is what any side has been training for for some five to six months. Wexford's squad strength was tested, but it was not the overall squad strength that came up short, it was also so many of the starting 15, and yet they were still in this game with a winning chance entering the closing minutes.
There are a variety of reasons why Wexford lost this game. One can point the finger in different directions, but this was self-inflicted by the never ending passing game, the eventual misdirection of passes, the lack of any direct football, allowing Carlow time to filter back for a blanket defence.
Wexford's approach out of defence was so pedestrian any side would have got their players back behind the ball. Oh, and it got even worse once the ball hit midfield/half-forward line. One had the experience of watching so many hand passes across the pitch, back to the centre, back into midfield, one was left wondering how were they to win the game. No player took on the direct approach, move the ball forward quickly, take on the scoring responsibility.
Wexford played three direct high balls to the goalmouth, and that was in the second half, two of which led to goals to haul themselves back into the game, but amazingly they returned to the passing game, and their ultimate passage to the qualifiers as a result.
This was in stark contrast to Carlow where both Paul Broderick and Brendan Murphy's direct style of football produced the crucial scores from play. Yes, Murphy was a man mountain in midfield, covering in defence, driving directly forward with relentless force, kicking two superb long range points and finishing with an excellent goal, while Broderick showed what attacking play is all about with superb points from both play and frees, but more importantly play.
For Wexford to use excuses regarding referees decisions, Carlow's defensive approach, is a little bit weak-minded. Many uttered out the words "Carlow's defensive game", but yet they scored 2-17, an amazing final tally for any side, let alone Carlow. Wexford must take the hit for this display and rightly so. Carlow ruthlessly exposed their weaknesses as Wexford abandoned what football is all about. What former Kerry Senior manager Jack O'Connor will think of all this when he views the video having had several sessions over recent weeks with the squad is anyone's guess.
O'Connor is supposedly to have impressed on Wexford that football is a simply game, a kicking game, but his calls fell on deaf ears, as the Model county turned it into a passing game, a game of sheer boredom, no plan to the eventual goal, that of shooting for scores, a total whitewash, which compounded the general lethargy. Maybe the players had one eye on that expected big home day with Dublin. But, whatever, it was pathetic to watch. So no big pay day for Wexford County Board. Seamus McEnaney may hear the criticism more than most, but that would be unfair. He had his plan but the players failure to take individual responsibility, even a handful to show leadership, was not his fault, for he would not have expected them to perform so poorly on the big stage.
But let's not forget an encore for our Minor footballers. On the way to this stage they overcame many hurdles so congratulations to John Nolan, his backroom and players, for keeping Wexford football afloat. A magnificent victory over Carlow. Yes, it was nice to see them suited, but at what cost, not financially. Where did the orange, yes orange tops arrive from? Where's the purple and gold we as a county is so proud of?
Ironic that this orange colour was produced after the more recent clothing debacle. The colours are so familiar to those worn by Taghmon-Camross. Let's ditch the orange and return to our traditional purple and gold. This explosion of colour is unacceptable.