Sunday 24 March 2019

'Horror show' in London

Wexford footballers suffer shattering defeat in Ruislip

Wexford midfielder Daithí Waters catches a high ball during the Allianz Football League Division 4 match against London in Ruislip
Wexford midfielder Daithí Waters catches a high ball during the Allianz Football League Division 4 match against London in Ruislip

Brendan Furlong

The love for Wexford football will be in short supply following their shattering Allianz National Football League Division 4 defeat to London in Ruislip on Sunday afternoon last.

Among all the storylines, this defeat to London has to be the central one, coming so quickly after their Qualifier championship slump to Waterford last year. But Wexford football seems to have lost the public support given the meagre support for their home victory over Antrim.

So it was no surprise when manager Paul McLoughlin described the London defeat as a 'horror show' eventually losing out by eight points.

'It's demoralising, disappointing and it's mystifying to be honest. How could we play so well in the first half against Leitrim, collapse in the second half, then play so well, particularly in the second half when down to fourteen players, in the win over Antrim, but we were terrible all through against London.

'It was my worst day ever in football. It was my worst ever experience, without a shadow of a doubt.

'I'm disappointed for the players, disappointed for everyone, for I feel the people out there must be wondering what's going on. We are unable to sustain our good form, for we played well in O'Byrne Cup, and then for this to happen. Our ability to maintain our game plan, our shape, just isn't there for some reason.

'I'm responsible for the performance but I don't intend to shirk away from it. After three games we have defeats of thirteen and eight points. We are minus 18 the worst scoring difference in Division 4. We are a Division 4 team so we can forget about setting our sights on promotion. All we can do is consolidate our position and try and get results beginning with Waterford in our next game.'

But McLoughlin is at a loss to explain as to what is wrong with Wexford football.

'There is something wrong with us for we play well against the better teams and then turn around and play like this. That's not taking from London they were way the better team. I knew after ten minutes we had problems for we were simply not playing well.

'We coughed up possession far too easily, we were static and tentative, perhaps that comes with lack of confidence. We may have lost games last year but we were much, much more closer, but this year we are on the receiving end of trimmings. I see what the players are putting in, what they are trying to achieve, so I will keep working with them.

'There's no doubt but that we are fighting for our lives at the moment. We have no right to beat anyone for we simply are not playing well enough. We have two weeks to get it right for Waterford, a challenge we must prepare ourselves to take on.'

There's no doubt but a serious challenge is facing Wexford football. Wexford have staggered through last season as McLoughlin tried to bring a squad together following the defection of so many experienced plyers. As the season moved on every sliver of light was shut out by darkening cloud which now it seems has been brought into 2019, with the standard of football even deteriorating through different phases of most games.

With each poor performance and defeat, the criticism has accelerated, making them the most accessible punchbags. No team, it seems, has been easier to land blows on, made easier by the recent surge of Davy Fitzgerald's hurling outfit, who it must be said face huge tests over the coming three weekends.

There's no cut, no edge, no ruthless streak to the current Wexford side, a fact that no doubt is not lost on those in charge.

The manner of the defeat to London has left Wexford football in a poor place and in need of drastic surgery from the top table in the county.

Meanwhile, Wexford will be down a number of players for their third round national hurling league game against Tipperary in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday afternoon next.

Manager Davy Fitzgerald has already ruled out Liam Ryan (suspended), Jack O'Connor (knee) and David Dunne (unavailable), while both James Breen and Conor Firman are also unlikely to make the cut. Missing long term through injury are both Joe O'Connor and Eoin Molloy.

While the Tipperary game will prove a huge test, Fitzgerald expects to be down some more key players, although he will not make a decision on Lee Chin and Rory O'Connor until later in the week.

Fitzgerald said: 'Both players are coming back from long term injuries and have little game time. I don't like throwing players into a game like that for I do not know if they would be up to seventy minutes hurling.

'I will not make a decision until later in the week. The same goes for Paul Morris who has not trained in a little over a week, while Mark Fanning took a knock in training, but Eanna Martin is due some game time.

'I'm happy with the two performances in the league given we were down so many players. We could have got a result against Limerick, went down to Cork and won. While we are short a number of players it's an opportunity for other players to step up.

'Look, Tipperary will be coming down seeking the points, so we realise the task ahead of us. It will be difficult but we will be up for the challenge.'

Enniscorthy Guardian