Saturday 23 September 2017

'The Dubs are waiting for us but we've a lot to do first' - Malone

Malone: “I can’t say enough good about Seamus and it’s a brilliant set-up. We have two really positive managers and the hurlers and footballers all train together up in Ferns.
Malone: “I can’t say enough good about Seamus and it’s a brilliant set-up. We have two really positive managers and the hurlers and footballers all train together up in Ferns." Picture credit: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

Wexford have fallen off the face of the football world in comparison to the heady days when Brian Malone burst onto the inter-county scene, but his hunger hasn't diminished. And with Seamus McEnaney steering the Model ship, the "buzz" is back in the sunny south-east.

Davy Fitzgerald's infectious passion has caused a similar ripple of optimism with the hurlers and having returned from honeymoon, Malone is eager to put the shoulder to the wheel with promotion from Division 4 the immediate aim.

"It's all good," Malone (below) said. "I can't say enough good about Seamus and it's a brilliant set-up. We have two really positive managers and the hurlers and footballers all train together up in Ferns. Both are very vocal, very positive, players are really happy and the supporters are really excited to have two big names over the county teams.

"We've got a couple of players back who would have walked away and just focused on their club, the likes of John Leacy will be a huge addition. Everyone that is available is in there and going 100pc and we're really happy with that.

"We need to get promotion from Division 4. We missed out last year and we'll be going all out because it does make a difference, there's a big gap between Division 4 and 3 so we'll be hoping to get up there and get high-quality games."

Looking at Malone you'd never believe he was facing into his 12th inter-county season, but the 30-year-old defender has played a central part in some of the Wexford's finest days, most notably the 2008 All-Ireland SFC semi-final where he excelled against eventual champions Tyrone. Their fortunes have dipped since and the last two Leinster SFC defeats, against Kildare (2016) and Westmeath ('15), left regrets but another year brings another shot at redemption, and the prospect of facing the back-to-back All-Ireland champions Dublin awaits.

That's only if they overcome Carlow, however, and the St Peter's College teacher, who is preparing his side for their Leinster SF Colleges 'A' final against Moate Cs tomorrow, won't allow himself to look too far ahead.

"We always want to win Leinster but we're just going to break it down more, the first championship game is what we want to win, we haven't won our first round the last two years. We haven't really thought about anything beyond that. Yeah, the Dubs are waiting but we're not thinking about that, we don't have the right to think about that, we haven't won a first-round game so it's all on Carlow," he said.

Tradition

Coming from a county with a huge tradition in both codes the Shelmaliers dual player welcomes the CPA's proposals to "fix the fixtures" for club players and encourages swift action.

"We'd love to get fixtures fixed so you know what's being played when. All of our young lads play hurling and football, there's very few that focus on one and we need to try and give both a fair rattle rather than just going at one and then trying to pick up the pieces," he said.

"Everyone is a club player, everyone is going to suffer these problems so the sooner we can get this whole thing sorted the better. Players need to know when they can go on holidays because it's so bad the way it is, lads really don't know whether they're coming or going."

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