independent

Friday 15 December 2017

O'Regan to switch codes

Another footballer all set for a chance with hurlers

Brendan Furlong

New Wexford Senior football manager Paul McLoughlin who is still working on finalising a panel for the forthcoming campaign
New Wexford Senior football manager Paul McLoughlin who is still working on finalising a panel for the forthcoming campaign

The dilemma facing the dual player has come to the forefront once again as it now seems likely that Michael O'Regan is set to link up with the Wexford Senior hurling squad.

With both Colm Kehoe (Cloughbawn) and Jake Firman (St. Martin's) having already decided to make hurling their top priority for 2018, and having been brought into set-up by manager Davy Fitzgerald, news of O'Regan's expected defection is a further blow to the new Senior football manager, Paul McLoughlin.

It is widely known that O'Regan has been given a three-month strength and conditioning programme by the Senior hurling backroom team, and should he reach the necessary level of fitness required for inter-county hurling he will be given every opportunity to stake his claim for a place in the squad.

The Glynn-Barntown clubman has just come through an injury-ravaged season, which restricted his involvement with the county's Senior footballers, but having figured prominently with his club in their championship outings he has brought himself into consideration for the hurlers, leaving yet another void in the football set-up.

Wexford Senior footballers won promotion from Division 4 last season, but their championship campaign was disappointing to say the least, so it has been a trying few months for McLoughlin as he tries to gather together a squad for the opening O'Byrne Cup game away to Offaly on December 30, which will be followed by an early start to the National League.

With P.J. Banville having announced his retirement from the inter-county scene, coupled with the fact that Adrian Flynn is out having undergone a cruciate knee ligament operation, McLoughlin is still unable to throw real light on what players will be available from the 2017 squad. There are doubts regarding the availability of long-serving players such as Ciarán Lyng and Shane Roche.

'I have still not spoken to everyone, I've to talk to some of the players before a squad is fully finalised,' McLoughlin said.

'I have not spoken with Michael O'Regan but I believe he's committed to hurling. Good luck to him.'

Regarding players already part of the squad, McLoughlin said there will be many new faces including Cathal Devereux and Quinn Saunders (Our Lady's Island), Dylan Furlong (Sarsfields), Matt Doyle (Glynn-Barntown) and Ivan Meegan (Ferns St. Aidan's), along with Darragh Pepper, Richard Farrell and Nicholas Doyle from new Senior football champions, Starlights.

'With the amount of new players coming in, the amount of change, it's certainly going to be a period of transition. But having said that, the attitude of the guys in has been brilliant but we are a few weeks away from having everything in place.

'The lads who have been playing club championship need a rest. Rest can be as important as training, as it's psychological as well. This is a transition for Wexford football, so we need time and space. It's a process and we are also learning ourselves,' McLoughlin said.

'We may not have all the answers but I'm delighted with the effort being put in. In my mind the backroom team has solidified. I am happy with the backroom team and not going to rush into adding anyone.

'We are travelling to play Offaly in the O'Byrne Cup on December 30. We also have Dublin in our group. I am delighted with the attitude of the squad.

'There are fierce demands now placed on players at inter-county level, as the level of commitment required has raised several decibels. We have to give them as much support in their preparation as possible,' McLoughlin added.

Meanwhile, Wexford have been handed a home fixture in their opening Leinster Senior football championship game against Laois after a toss at a provincial council meeting last week, with the game down for decision in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday, May 12, at 6.30 p.m.

The second O'Byrne Cup game against Dublin will be on January 3 or 7, while the Senior hurlers will also have two Walsh Cup ties on those dates versus Carlow and Wicklow.

The new Leinster Under-20 football competition is being run in three sections, with Wexford in Group 1 along with Dublin, Longford and Westmeath. Games will be played on Monday, May 28, Monday, June 4, and Saturday, June 16.

The Under-21 hurling championship remains knockout, with Wexford in the semi-final against Westmeath or the section A qualifier which comprises Carlow, Laois, Dublin and Ulster (Antrim/Down).

The Minor football championship, now Under-17, is divided into two groups, with Wexford paired with Kildare, Carlow, Laois and Longford. Wexford will not be competing in Junior football.

Wexford People

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