Sunday 16 December 2018

Foley in hurling gold

McLoughlin named as new Senior football manager

Defender Pádraig Foley will be making a welcome return to the Wexford Senior hurling squad for 2018
Defender Pádraig Foley will be making a welcome return to the Wexford Senior hurling squad for 2018

Brendan Furlong

Wexford senior hurlers have been given a significant boost with the return of Pádraig Foley to their squad for the 2018 campaign.

Foley, who took time out last season, has recently come back to the Crossabeg-Ballymurn fold, helping them win the Intermediate 'A' football title and qualify for the Intermediate hurling semi-final. His presence will give manager Davy Fitzgerald more options in defence.

However, out of the squad is the experienced Andrew Shore, who is set to undergo an operation to deal with his long-standing shoulder problem, which will keep him out of the game for seven months, while other notable omissions from the squad are Andrew Kenny of Buffers Alley and Naomh Eanna's Eoin Conroy.

Fitzgerald has given a vote of confidence to the majority of the players who lit up the hurling season, with two famous victories over Kilkenny in league and championship.

In addition, they were the only side to claim a victory over eventual All-Ireland champions, Galway, on that famous league day in Salthill, a first-ever victory for the Model county at the seaside venue.

Others to depart from the squad are Shane O'Gorman (Adamstown), Nicky Kirwan (Oulart-The Ballagh), and Naomh Eanna duo Pádraig Doyle and Darragh Hughes.

While Foley was always going to gain a recall once becoming available again, championship form has seen the inclusion of three newcomers, players who have been continually impressive for their respective clubs.

Oylegate-Glenbrien's Jamie Reck, who was so influential in their impressive championship run, is included, along with Connal Flood (Cloughbawn), one of the county's bright young players.

And there is also a deserved call-up for this year's Under-21 full-back Darren Byrne (Blackwater), who showed real quality despite the defeat to Kilkenny, while also being outstanding for his club.

Regarding the prospects of Liam Og McGovern, Fitzgerald is adamant the player will not be rushed back, after his second cruciate operation in the space of twelve months.

'Liam Og is undergoing rehab but he will not be rushed. Time is of the essence and he will be given the necessary time to make a full recovery,' Fitzgerald said.

While welcoming the new championship format, which gives Wexford two home games, Fitzgerald believes that it's going to make for a hugely competitive season in both leage and championship.

However, there is no doubt that Fitzgerald is looking for Wexford to be competitive, before supporters start raising expectations.

'We need to be competitive first and foremost, then look towards getting results to keep us in Division 1A, before going on to contemplae the championship. Being competitive is our initial goal and hopefully the results will follow,' he added.

Meanwhile, Wexford have named former Kildare inter-county footballer, Paul McLoughlin, to succeed Seamus McEnaney as the new Senior football manager.

Now resident in Rosslare, McLoughlin played with the Lilywhites in three Leinster finals while he has also managed at club level in the county.

Having also managed in Waterford, his other club involvements include Kilmore and Volunteers. In the past he also served in the Wexford backroom team with Jason Ryan and Aidan O'Brien.

McLoughlin has been handed a three-year term, with one of his selectors being Mark Roche (Kilmore), who served with him when he was Wexford Minor football manager.

At this stage the search continues to complete the backroom team, but at least the manager is in place before the conclusion of the Senior club championship.

Enniscorthy Guardian