Saturday 25 November 2017

Players must dig deeper than ever to make it happen

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

He brought a hard edge to Oulart-The Ballagh and Wexford hurling, an attitude that said 'to hell with entitlement, you earn everything you get'.

It served him, the club and Wexford hurling well. But right now Liam Dunne will feel let down by a group of hurlers for whom so much promise was held after the exploits of 2014. What they did in the past is simply not good enough to get them over the line.

Many questions are waiting to be asked and answered. Wexford have just been taken apart by an Offaly side, still struggling like Wexford to lift themselves back as a serious hurling force. Wexford came off the back of a very good 2014 but ever since it has gradually rolled back downhill.

Questions will roll from journalists this week. But the most striking question will be: 'what's gone wrong with Wexford hurling? To where do we take it from now? We got blitzed at Innovate Wexford Park and this after racing into a two-goal lead inside four minutes of the start, ending with an eight-point defeat that could have been more embarrassing but for the excellent saves of 'keeper Conor O'Leary.

What has triggered the downward trend oin Wexford hurling? Somewhere, mentally, do players think this improvement will automatically occur, without digging down deep and making it happen?

That's not being over simplistic but the Wexford G.A.A. Board and the management team have tried everything imaginable to address the concern after the opening two league defeats to Limerick and Clare. The level of expectation has eased following the false hype of last year, but it did little to quell the huge disappointment of the most genuine supporters after what happened on the hallowed turf of the county grounds last Sunday.

Some counties seem better able to deal with certain situations as they emerge. It may still be early to judge the team, and we'll leave that to the faceless people who air the views on a particular Monday morning local radio programme, the majority of whom would not have even been present at the game or could summon up the courage to put their names to the negative and damaging attacks, both personal and on the team as a whole.

A lot of people may only see dark days ahead for Wexford hurling. The future is bleak, the bubble has well and truly burst, but I genuinely think that the players as a whole will not want to be remembered for what has happened last year and so far in 2016.

It must have been difficult in the camp following that Offaly display. But the players will no doubt realise that they need a change of attitude, and a change of approach, since what has been tried so far simply hasn't worked. If we want to win more games I don't think what we did in 2014 will get us over the line.

Coaching has changed. Other counties are now totally a different animal. We see the personnel imported by counties to help out with current management. Donal Og Cusack is an example in Clare, standing beside the passionate Davy Fitzgerald, along with their talented coach, Paul Kinnerk.

Wexford may need a change in coaching emphasis, a whole new look at placement of certain players. Perhaps the Wexford players need to implement a more direct game and bring the passion back to Wexford hurling, for which the county is renowned.

Whatever is needed one thing is for certain, Liam Dunne needs a helping hand, and positive support rather than the negativity that surrounded the county grounds last Sunday, where certain individuals were more interested in personal grievances than Wexford hurling.

A change of manager is not necessarily the answer in mid-season. Galway is an example where Micheál Donoghue is quickly finding out what it takes to succeed at the top.

The whole dynamic of Wexford hurling must move on. Wexford must develop a core group of players which is what Liam Dunne is trying to achieve.

Dunne as a player was not one for entertaining any waffle. If you are going to talk about moving Wexford hurling forward, perhaps now is the time to seek out improvement rather than change the personnel at the helm.

Maybe Wexford would be a completely different animal if they somehow developed a coaching role for the likes of former Galway boss, Anthony Cunningham, to supplement the work of a clearly over-burdened Liam Dunne.

Wexford People

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