Wednesday 16 October 2019

Let's not judge the Dunne era until we see how Davy fares

Alan Aherne
Alan Aherne

On the Line with Alan Aherne

It was an extremely busy week for local sport, and in normal circumstances Gusserane's emergence from the wilderness after four decades of hurt would be the main topic on everyone's lips.

However, the events of last Thursday and Friday ensured that for once that dramatic Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship final has to take a backseat, not that the newly-crowned champions will mind of course. They have the cup now, they are in the middle of their deserved celebrations, and that's all that matters for the O'Rahilly's.

As for the rest of the county, all anybody really wants to talk about is the appointment of Davy Fitzgerald as our new Senior hurling manager. Rumour became reality in the space of 24 hours towards the end of the week, so it's time to brace ourselves for what has the potential to be a rollercoaster ride.

To be honest, I'd be much happier if the Wexford players and backroom were able to go about their business in 2017 in a low-key manner.

This simply isn't going to happen though because the national media will be obsessed with Davy and every move he makes, every soundbite he produces, from this day forward. We could do without the sideshow if truth be told, because I'm not sure how our hurlers will react to being constantly under the spotlight, particularly when they are struggling to make up ground on the game's super powers.

It's part and parcel of what we have signed up for though, so now it's a case of getting on with it and wishing Davy the very best. I've no interest in the Clare man's inter-action with officials and rival mentors on the sidelines; all I want is to see the new backroom team doing all in their power to get us out of Division 1B first and foremost.

As for the championship, I think the initial target set of returning Wexford to the top six is both realistic and attainable. A measure of consistency is intially required, and of course it would be wonderful to bring an end to our regular double-digit defeats in the games that really matter.

Multiple column inches will be devoted to Davy over the next three years, so this may be the last opportunity to gave Liam Dunne the recognition I believe he so richly deserves.

He inherited a poisoned chalice and had the balls to take on a job that nobody really wanted at the time. Not alone that, but he had the satisfaction of knocking his successor as boss and the Banner county off their All-Ireland winning pedestal in 2014 and also presided over a first championship win over Cork for 60 years.

That memorable night in Nowlan Park against Waterford is another stand-out moment, and the only pity is that our big victories weren't more plentiful in Liam's five years at the helm.

I have been disappointed, though not surprised, by some of the spiteful comments directed towards the Oulart-The Ballagh man by so many people who wouldn't have the courage to say anything negative to his face.

The general mantra in modern-day sport is that when results don't go according to plan, the players are never to blame and it's always the manager's fault.

Those looking for a scapegoat weren't shy about laying full responsibility at Dunne's door. He was human and made mistakes like the rest of us, but I for one firmly believe that a final judgement shouldn't be delivered on his tenure as manager until after the Fitzgerald reign ends.

Let's see what the players do now that we have a manager who knows what it takes to win an All-Ireland from either side of the white lines.

I remain to be convinced that we have a squad good enough to get us back to the highest reaches of hurling. I passionately want it to happen, and I will be thrilled if it comes to pass, but at the moment I firmly believe that Liam Dunne had a group of limited ability to work with and did a fine overall job in the circumstances.

He doesn't need me or anyone else to stand up for him of course, because Dunne is and always will be his own man.

His straight talking rubbed certain wannabes up the wrong way, just like John Meyler before him, but now that he's gone I want to say thanks, Liam, for giving your all in an extremely difficult job. History may yet treat you better than your most cowardly critics.

Wexford People

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