Monday 22 January 2018

Colleagues backed Foley

Player power saw Rapps lad restored to U-21 squad

Brendan Furlong

Kevin Foley scoring a disallowed goal in last year's All-Ireland Under-21 hurling championship final against Limerick in Thurles
Kevin Foley scoring a disallowed goal in last year's All-Ireland Under-21 hurling championship final against Limerick in Thurles

Wexford may be out of the provincial title race in both Senior and Under-21 hurling, but the county still has a few puzzles to solve.

When management are put in control they are managing more than teams, they also have to manage expectations in a hurling-mad county, starved of success, which leaves each and every decision open to scrutiny.

The texts, social media and anonymous calls have been alive, with Wexford people hurting at the elimination of their two key sides, and the fact that they have a Leinster Minor hurling final to look forward to is in no way easing the pain.

Model county supporters had first to endure the Lee Chin injury debacle, with claim and counter-claim regarding his fitness. Nothing clearly has emerged since, other than he was not included in the team and substitutes for the Dublin Senior debacle, despite the No. 26 slot being left vacant.

While it painted a bleak picture, Wexford did not learn. Never mind the sobering defeat, it was then on to the preparations for the opening defence of their provincial Under-21 hurling title against Dublin.

During the two weeks of preparations the Senior players on the Under-21 team tried to put their disappointment behind them and lead the Under-21 charge, but it was never going to be as simple as that.

When the Under-21 team and substitutes were announced, manager J.J. Doyle was at pains to explain that Kevin Foley was not included in the starting 15 as he was concentrating on examinations in the two weeks leading up to the game. There's no denying Foley's commitment to his college examinations, but it was not as straightforward as that.

Now it has emerged that Foley was allegedly informed by text that he would not be considered for the Dublin game owing to his unavailability for training. This painted a bleak picture for the Rapparees clubman, who earlier in the year had opted out of the Senior set-up to concentrate on studies, but he managed to give excellent displays for his club in the local championships.

Through the season it is understood that Foley was not the only player culled from the squad by social media - text messages from management.

The decision was never going to sit easily. Not surprisingly, player power intervened, with manager Doyle being contacted by some more senior players with a demand for Foley to be involved. This ultimately led to the player being included in the substitutes, and being the first replacement introduced shortly before the interval.

Given the mind-set of players following the Dublin Senior debacle, it was always going to be difficult to turn around their fortunes, but the Foley debacle was something the squad could have done without.

As the countdown to the qualifiers continues, there are still injury concerns for the respective Senior managers, Liam Dunne and David Power.

Lee Chin will be fit to resume competitive hurling, along with Ian Byrne and Shane Tomkins, but there is still some doubt surrounding Aidan Nolan, who is progressing slowly with his knee ligament problem. It's also expected that James Breen will have overcome his hamstring problem which forced him to miss the Dublin game.

On the football front, full-back Jim Rossiter must now be considered a doubt, having being forced to retire with a hamstring problem after just ten minutes of St. Fintan's victory in the Intermediate football championship on Sunday evening.

Brian Malone (shoulder) and Micheal Furlong (shoulder) are also huge doubts for the opening qualifier game, but Naomhan Rossiter is expected to have recovered from his hand injury. Wexford will learn their first round opponents today (Tuesday).

Wexford People

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