WEXFORD SENIOR hurlers open their Walsh Cup campaign against D.I.T. at Ferns on Sunday next against the backdrop of the county's efforts to have Paudie Butler as part of their backroom team.
While no team was announced at the time of writing, manager Liam Dunne will no doubt be utilising his full squad after a difficult few weeks with the defection of two of his key young players, Matthew O'Hanlon and Diarmuid O'Keeffe, while Liam Og McGovern is another long-term absentee having to undergo hip surgery.
But Dunne's attempts to bring in Tipperary native and former Laois manager, Butler (pictured inset), as a full-time selector have been thwarted by Croke Park.
According to the Oulart-The Ballagh man, Butler wants to work alongside him but the move has been blocked by G.A.A. headquarters.
Butler took the Wexford hurlers for an indoor session over the Christmas period but has told Dunne he is unable to come on board in an official capacity.
The former national director of hurling, he has a coaching role with the G.A.A., the Association has confirmed. And as per rule, a G.A.A. employee is not permitted to be a member of an inter-county management team. However, a spokesperson insisted Butler is free to fulfil an advisory role with Wexford.
'I think the handcuffs should be taken off Paudie Butler because, as most people think about Wexford hurling, we are in crisis,' Dunne said.
'I asked him to help out a year ago and he said he would but over Christmas he said he didn't know if he could come in. I don't think Croke Park want him helping us out.' G.A.A. Director General, Páraic Duffy, has gone on record as expressing his concern about the drop in standard of hurling in Wexford.
'The one disappointment, the one that would worry me is Wexford,' he said. 'They seem to have slipped back, that is an issue of concern.' Dunne believes that Croke Park would send a strong signal about Wexford hurling by allowing Butler to become part of his management team. 'It's easy to talk about it. I haven't seen a whole lot happening. The same thing was said about Dublin 15 years ago and I'm not sure how many millions were pumped in there. I'm not saying it's all about millions. What I'm looking for is nothing like that but a person who I believe will be of great benefit to the Wexford Senior hurling team.
'Paudie Butler is a top-class coach and is more than willing to come in and help. If people are concerned about Wexford then they should allow him.'
Dunne is also looking to Croke Park to do something about the dual player conundrum facing Wexford on June 8 and 9. Lee Chin and Andrew Shore will split commitments between both Senior panels, but Dunne's hurlers are scheduled to play their Leinster quarter-final against Dublin less that 24 hours prior to Aidan O'Brien's footballers face Laois or Louth.
'I have no problem with them playing football the following day but Aidan O'Brien might have a problem with that. If Páraic Duffy wants to help us he can have a look at that.'
The game with D.I.T. in Ferns on Sunday has a 2 p.m. start.