Sunday 15 December 2019

Another key 'Kog' departs

Attacker O'Grady taking a year out while Roche retires

Kevin O’Grady on the move during the championship loss to Monaghan earlier this year
Kevin O’Grady on the move during the championship loss to Monaghan earlier this year
Shane Roche, who has retired from the inter-county scene

Wexford's Paul McLoughlin must be one of the most frustrated managers in Senior inter-county football given the number of defections from the squad for the 2018 season.

Starting out on his first term at the highest level, McLouglin has lost no fewer than six of the side which started the qualifier defeat to Monaghan, while Ciarán Lyng remains undecided as to his future inter-county career. Wexford lost that qualifier game on a humiliating 3-23 to 1-11 final scoreline.

Now 'keeper and one-time attacker Shane Roche has joined the list of casualties having announced his retirement over the weekend, while forward Kevin O'Grady has signalled his intentions to travel and will not be part of the squad for league or championship.

These latest announcements come on the back of the decision of corner-forward P.J. Banville to retire. Adrian Flynn (cruciate knee ligament) is also unavailable, while Colm Kehoe, Jake Firman and Michael O'Regan have joined up with Davy Fitzgerald's Senior hurling squad. Also gone from the panel is centre-back Joey Wadding.

Of the starting 15 that played Monaghan, only Brian Malone, Jim Rossiter, Michael Furlong, Eoghan Nolan, Tiarnan Rossiter, Daithí Waters, Naomhan Rossiter and Conor Carty are back, while substitute Ben Brosnan has also returned, although both John Leacy and Paul Curtis are missing.

Roche has been a member of the Senior football squad since 2006, having made 101 appearances for the county.

'After the Monaghan game I informed Seamus (McEnaney) that I would be calling it a day,' he said. 'I got married just six weeks ago so I've decided enough is enough.'

Meanwhile, St. James' clubman Kevin O'Grady has revealed how he played through the pain barrier this season, both for club and county.

'I've been given a career break in work for nine months to travel. I will leave in February for New York where I'll remain for two months before taking in further travel. I will be back in my job on December 1 next having completed my travels,' he said.

'I have been seven years on the go, playing inter-county from Minor and Under-21 through to Senior, while I also have had a hectic schedule with the club over recent years having qualified for a number of county finals.

'This year I played through the pain barrier. I had trouble with my hip, having to receive pain killing injections before games.

'Even under David Power I had been told to take substantial time out, but I only took half the time and went back training and playing,' he explained.

'Of the Under-21 football team that won Leinster, myself, James Breen, Emmet Kent and Liam Og McGovern ended with hip problems.

'Some had operations but up to now I had decided against an operation, but I always felt that when I went back hurling, it was not as heavy on the hip as football,' he added.

Perhaps the rest next year will be a considerable help for when I return.

'It certainly looks like a period of change for Wexford football, but many of the lads have given long service. Paul McLoughlin is the right man to bring what will be a young team forward over the next three seasons,' O'Grady added.

'With the amount of new players coming in, and the amount of change, it's certainly going to be a period of transition,' said McLoughlin in an earlier interview, as Wexford continue preparations for life in Division 3 of the league next season.

'This is a transition for Wexford football, so we need time and space. It's a process and we are also learning ourselves,' McLoughlin added.

Wexford open their new season with an away O'Byrne Cup game against Offaly on Saturday, December 30.

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