Laffan cries foul in Model 'dual' row
Published 31/03/2011 | 05:00
The Wexford hurling crisis deepened last night as the county's U-21 selector Gary Laffan, an All-Ireland SHC medallist in 1996, launched a scathing attack on his own county board over the use of dual players.
Laffan says the U-21 hurlers were promised the use of eight dual players for a challenge match against Offaly last Sunday -- before they were later pulled from the squad.
The players in question -- Liam Og McGovern, Michael O'Regan, Matthew O'Hanlon, John Lacey, Barry O'Gorman, Alan Nolan, James Breen and Emmett Kent -- are preparing for Wednesday's Leinster U-21 football final against Longford.
But Laffan has warned that if the hurlers don't get some access to the players during their preparations, then the Slaneysiders are in for a hiding against Kilkenny in the Leinster championship on June 8.
However, Laffan dismissed reports that U-21 boss Tony Dempsey and his team had threatened to quit over the dispute.
"Ger Doyle, the county board chairman, agreed that after the first round of the U-21 football against Louth (February), that dual players would be released for both codes," said Laffan.
"They won that and then went on to beat Kildare and Carlow to reach the final. But we've hardly seen our hurlers. In the last eight weeks, we've seen four of five them twice, with the other two on three or four occasions. It's not good enough.
"We wanted the dual players last Sunday for a challenge match against Offaly, before the senior game in Tullamore.
"On the Thursday, Ger Doyle said yes, that they were being released. But on Friday evening we were on our way to Waterford for another challenge match and I got a phone call informing me that they were not being released, but we could have them for the Waterford match.
"By the time that message was relayed, we were already in transit, on our way to Waterford, and we weren't going to have access to the players by then."
Glynn/Barntown clubman Laffan was at pains to stress that he is not anti-football, having won a county SFC medal with his club and played U-21 football for Wexford before lining out for the county's U-21 hurlers.
"I don't want to be portrayed as anti-football because nothing could be further from the truth. Since then, Tony and Kevin (Wexford U21 football manager) had been in discussions and have come to some sort of arrangement for after the Leinster (football) final.
"We knew the U-21 footballers had a good team and we had to look at the eventuality of them winning a Leinster or even an All-Ireland.
"But we're trying to prepare for Kilkenny on June 8 and they're playing practice matches twice a week, without any dual issues. And if we don't prepare properly, Kilkenny will come to Wexford Park and blow us out of the water.
"Wexford hurling is not in a great place, but this U-21 team is a very good team. We have 13 of last year's team unlucky to lose against Dublin in the Leinster final and this is a team we targeted to win a Leinster championship. But at this moment in time, we're finding it hard to get access to players."