Sunday 18 August 2019

Dunne will remain as hurling boss and deservedly so

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

Brendan Furlong

Wexford GAA. is making the right move in giving time and space to the county Senior hurling management to shed some light on what turned into a disappointing season.

The backroom team will be the first to concede that they must do better. And this message has been relayed loud and clear, with the County Chairman having ordered an in-depth review of the past year, with particular emphasis on what went wrong and what is needed to propel Wexford hurling back as serious league and championship contenders.

Manager Liam Dunne has another year of his term left. He took over Wexford hurling when it was utterly on its knees in the county. Colm Bonnar, who had been manager, had found difficulty in even getting players wear the purple and gold. Credit to Dunne as he cleaned out the squad and opted for youth, so fans were not expecting much initially.

Three years down the line the county had a marvellous run, but 2015 fell flat, as the players simply were unable to cope with the expectations placed on them following the heroics of twelve months earlier. Nevertheless, expectations with Wexford hurling followers will always be high. There's no doubt that players and management will acknowledge that but it's time that expectations were more realistic, particularly as the team building continues.

We, as a county, are operating with possibly one of the youngest Senior squads in the country. The fact that they failed to attain the heights of 2014 can be attributed to lack of experience and expectation. Nevertheless the young players involved at Under-21 level, who had put in so much work under Liam Dunne with the Senior squad, demolished all opposition in winning a third provincial title in a row.

It's dangerous to expect these players to reach the highs of hardened sides such as Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary. Clearly though, these are the players of the future, players who will thrive on the inter-county scene given space and time. These are the very players who will propel Wexford hurling back to the top.

In the midst of all this there is much rumbling. There is much talking behind backs, phone calls and behind closed door mutterings. But none of this has made it officially before the county officers are busily working behind the scenes with manager Liam Dunne in planning the way forward for 2016.

Those making the noises are not very credible. While there was shock and disappointment with this year's displays, those genuinely interested in Wexford hurling have responded positively, offering their experience and guile in a helpful way for manager Liam Dunne to continue his work.

It's regrettable that some would take the opportunity to personalise issues, not just with the manager, but also with the County Chairman, while also offering up a local journalist to portray their feelings, not just on team management but the running of County Board affairs.

I could say much regarding Wexford G.A.A. but now is the time to be positive. We have still an All-Ireland Under-21 title to play for, and also an All-Ireland Junior football title within our scope, so all is not lost in a county with two provincial titles to its credit this season.

Wexford Senior hurling management know the battle awaiting them. And now the questions being asked are: will the backroom team remain? Will there be changes in personnel both in the management and squad?

Lips are sealed at the moment. But Liam Dunne for his mammoth work over the past four years deserves a vote of confidence. He has introduced these young players to the heat of inter-county hurling. His contribution to their development should not be lost on the success at Under-21 level.

Yes, Liam Dunne will remain at the helm and deservedly so. I express astonishment with some media calls for his removal. They are ill-founded, ill-thought out, and just jumping on what they believed was the popular platform. Real Wexford hurling people want Dunne to remain, perhaps with a little tweaking to his backroom team.

There's plenty of support for Dunne. He will remain at the helm of Wexford hurling, with some new personnel in his backroom, while many more of that hugely successful Under-21 squad will push their way into his thinking and squad for 2016.

Turning things around, and getting on top of that challenge, is what is facing Dunne. This, I'm confident, he will achieve come 2016.

Wexford People

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