Thursday 18 October 2018

Firman and Kehoe move from football to hurling

New Wexford Senior hurling recruit Jake Firman in a duel with Oulart-The Ballagh's Anthony Roche during Sunday's county final
New Wexford Senior hurling recruit Jake Firman in a duel with Oulart-The Ballagh's Anthony Roche during Sunday's county final

Brendan Furlong

Wexford's new football manager, Paul McLoughlin, is reeling from the news that two of his key players have joined up with the Senior hurling squad.

Midfielder Colm Kehoe and attacker Jake Firman will be spending 2018 as part of Davy Fitzgerald's panel, with the duo unavailable to the footballers as they bid to maintain their newly-found Division 3 status.

Kehoe was a key player in a midfield partnership with Daithí Waters for previous manager Seamus McEnaney as they won promotion from Division 4, the highlight of a mixed league and championship campaign.

Wexford won their opening five league games to secure promotion but finished the campaign dismally with defeats to Carlow and Westmeath, and an eventual Division 4 league final loss to the midlanders.

In the championship Wexford disappointed when going under to Carlow, and while salvaging some pride with a qualifier victory over Limerick, they bowed out tamely when losing heavily to Monaghan.

Firman was making steady progress in his first football campaign at that level, so the loss of the two players is a huge blow to McLoughlin who has taken up a Senior managerial role for the first time.

Kehoe, from the Cloughbawn club, is expected to make a huge impact with the hurlers, while Firman has been a key driving force in the march of St. Martin's to both Senior county finals.

It's proving a difficult time for McLoughlin, who has just one selector - Mark Roche (Kilmore) - as he continues to search the county to add to his backroom team.

With a squad expected to be assembled to begin preparations next month for the National League,

McLoughlin will be hoping to have his backroom team completed as quickly as possible, particularly with the county final involving St. Martin's and Starlights down for decision next Sunday.

While both Kehoe and Firman will prove real additions to Fitzgerald's hurling squad, it has now become clear that attacker Podge Doran will not be part of the set-up for 2018.

The Oylegate-Glenbrien player has decided to take a year out from the inter-county scene, and will not be considered for the new year. He joins Andrew Shore, as the Parnells (Dublin) clubman is out of contention for up to seven months due to a shoulder operation.

Also gone from the squad is Glynn-Barntown's Gary Moore, while it has already been announced that Andrew Kenny, Darragh Hughes, Pádraig Doyle, Eoin Conroy, Shane O'Gorman and Nicky Kirwan have been omitted.

Apart from the inclusion of Kehoe and Firman, the squad has been further strengthened by the return of Crossabeg-Ballymurn defender Pádraig Foley.

Meanwhile, following a hugely impressive club championship with Naomh Eanna, corner-back Eoin Molloy has since been drafted into the squad, along with Cloughbawn's Connal Flood, Oylegate-Glenbrien's Jamie Reck, and this year's Under-21 full-back, Darren Byrne (Blackwater).

The squad has been boosted further by the return from injury of Oylegate-Glenbrien defender Damien Reck.

Reck was outstanding in the league, in his first season, but the 19-year-old missed out on the championship owing to an ankle ligament injury which necessitated an operation.

However, it's not yet clear if Adamstown's James Breen will be available for 2018.

Given his heavy work commitments, Breen is still undecided, but Fitzgerald is hopeful that the man-marking defender, who held Kilkenny's T.J. Reid scoreless from play in league and championship, will make himself available.

The hurling squad will begin training at the end of November to prepare for life back in Division 1A, where they have been handed two homes games with Cork and Clare, while they are away to Kilkenny, Tipperary and Waterford.

The home game with Cork on February 4 has been given added colour because, manning the line with the Rebel county will be one of Wexford's favourite sons, John Meyler, who on Thursday was announced as the county's new manager, succeeding Kieran Kingston who did not seek a further term of office.

Enniscorthy Guardian