Friday 22 September 2017

Barry feared for Wexford future after Ryan departed

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

WEXFORD star Redmond Barry has admitted he feared for the county's football side after the departure of manager Jason Ryan last year.

Ryan stepped away last winter after five years at the helm in a period which saw Wexford transformed into one of the better teams in the Leinster championship and also reach the dizzy heights of an All-Ireland semi-final.

"You're five years with the same manager, it's a whole new learning process when the new man comes in," Barry said.

"But as the new regime has come in, we have upped it. It was a case that maybe we'd got a little bit into a comfort zone or maybe a little lackadaisical as a group because we knew Jason so well."

Despite relegation back to Division 3 in the spring, new manager Aidan O'Brien steered Wexford past the challenge of Louth in Drogheda last time out to set up a Leinster semi-final date with Meath in Croke Park on Sunday.

It will be only the fourth meeting between the sides in the last 30 years, but Wexford have enjoyed the better of it recently, having won the clashes in 2006 and 2008.

COMEBACKS

In '08, Ryan's first act as Wexford manager in the championship was to oversee one of the most memorable comebacks in history.

The Slaneysiders overturned a 10-point deficit with 18 minutes to go to win by the minimum and that summer stretched all the way to the last four before defeat to eventual All-Ireland champions Tyrone.

"It was just one of those things, the thing you hope happens every day where just everything goes to plan," recalls Barry, who turns 32 later this summer. "That's what happened in the last 10 minutes, nothing could go wrong. We were kicking scores from everywhere; we were winning every ball that was kicked out.

"The pressure came on them too when they had their scoring chances, because we were on such a roll and they were maybe missing ones that they had put over earlier in the game."

Matty Forde was the star of that side, but with the likes of Barry, Ciaran Lyng and Ben Brosnan all sharing the scoring responsibility between them, Barry agrees that the current side carry more threats.

"We have a few maybe more scoring forwards alright. It's the same kind of group for the last two or three years, so you'd be hoping to pick up a bit more experience and try to get the job done," added Barry.

Meanwhile, Armagh make three changes from the team that started the last day against Cavan for their first round qualifier against Wicklow. James Morgan, Ethan Rafferty and Eugene McVerry comes into the team as Declan McKenna, who has emigrated, Ciaron O'Hanlon and Stefan Forker make way.

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