Monday 14 October 2019

Dunne leaves no stone unturned in pre-season planning

Liam Dunne hasn't been twiddling his thumbs in the close season
Liam Dunne hasn't been twiddling his thumbs in the close season
Billy Walsh’s departure to the United States is bemoaned by Liam Dunne, as the former Irish boxing supremo was a great source of support and encouragement to him when the knives were being sharpened during the summer

Having had the chance to reflect on the past year, Liam Dunne has spoken for the first time about the 'extraordinary' Billy Walsh and his visit to the Ireland rugby training camp.

The Wexford boss admitted it was difficult to deal with the fall-off of his side this year, following so quickly on the exploits of 2014.

The Model county bowed out of the Leinster title race to Kilkenny, going on to fail to Cork in the qualifiers, leaving Westmeath as their only championship scalp.

And this came after a disappointing Allianz League campaign, with the county failing to secure promotion from Division 1B.

Wexford went from high championship expectations to possibly one of the most disappointing sides in this year's championship race.

Noted for his innovative methods, Dunne took charge of the squad three seasons back and dismantled the group of players handed over to him.

Instead he favoured the route of bringing in players from Under-21 and Minor and building a whole new squad, which he is continuing to do to the present time.

No stone was left unturned as he attempted to gain control of his own destiny, now laying a whole new foundation as he looks forward to 2016.

'Every day, every week, I was looking for motivation, looking for a direction, not just to take the players, but also myself as a manager.

'Everyone was giving out, everyone was so disappointed. I had the Shelmaliers Chairman, Seamus O'Leary, along with his club Senior selector, Michael Kelly, looking for my head, when perhaps they would have been better off catering for their own club's needs and building on their tremendous Senior success of last year,' he claimed.

'They should have been concentrating on taking their club on another journey, as I had sufficient support from genuine hurling people to take me through this period.

'I also had Clonard's Dave Ormonde expressing concern over my financial package, and this coming from a club going nowhere. This is just is a small indication of the outside pressures applied,' Dunne added.

'Thankfully, sanity prevailed, and there were enough hurling people only interested in getting what's best for the game in the county, and not personalising the issues.

'While all of this was going on I was still working away for Wexford hurling with the support of so many genuine people which I really appreciated. Now I hope to be able to repay that confidence placed in me.'

Dunne was grateful to fellow Wexford man and then Irish boxing supremo, Billy Walsh, for the advice given to him through those traumatic months following the side's championship exit.

'I met Billy on several occasions. I got some wonderful advice on ways of moving forward, planning ahead. He spoke with me for several hours on each occasion.

'When Billy was returning from medal-winning championships, he told me that on the plane home, instead of celebrating, while he did get his share of excitement out of the successes, he was already planning ahead, how they could improve on their achievements, how they could win even more medals next time around.

'He was absolutely brilliant. He took me from the highs of 2014 to the lows of this year. His whole approach was to get the levels of intensity up, and getting consistency which would bring a flow to your game,' he said.

'Also he spoke to me in detail about what's required at managerial level, what is needed from me and the backroom, and also the need for the players to be disciplined, committed and have pride in what they are doing, trying to achieve.

'He was absolutely brilliant, I have to say that. When people had their guns out for me he was so helpful, so positive, with none of those negative vibes on which so many in Wexford thrive upon. Positivity and looking forward were his sole objectives.

'I was so disappointed when he moved to America, as he was going to be an integral part of our set-up. I wish him well on his new mission but his contributions will not be forgotten,' Dunne said.

Liam's travels to bring a more professional approach to his management style, which will ultimately benefit the players, also took him inside the professional set-up of Irish rugby.

'I met Michael Kearney, the Irish team manager, at Carton House. Having spoken with him for some time, he turned to me and said "come along with me now".

'Within minutes I was on the inside of Irish rugby. I was sitting with Mick at the back of the room as Joe Schmidt was taking his squad through a video analysis of their last international.

'It was a marvellous experience, but one that would open your eyes.

'I was able to take so much knowledge of video analysis back with me, the professional manner in which it was delivered, with each area of play broken down and analysed.

'Then I was taken out to watch the training session. I spoke with our own Tadhg (Furlong) at length. It's marvellous to see another Wexford man progressing through to this level after Gordon (D'Arcy).

'It may have been rugby training but there's still so much to take from it and bring to our own preparations.

'I also spoke with the Tullow Tank (Seán O'Brien) who was wondering if I needed a centre-forward,' he recalled with a smile.

Wexford People