independent

Sunday 24 February 2019

Relief for football boss

McLoughlin delighted to get first set of league points

Wexford full-back Mark O’Neill forcefully brushing aside the challenge of Antrim’s Rúairí McCann during Sunday’s victory
Wexford full-back Mark O’Neill forcefully brushing aside the challenge of Antrim’s Rúairí McCann during Sunday’s victory

Brendan Furlong

While Daithi Waters was the hero for Wexford's first Allianz Football League victory on Sunday, manager Paul McLoughlin is in no doubt that his side must take their game to another level if they are entertain an immediate return to Division 3.

It will continue when they travel to Ruislip this weekend where their hosts, London, under the management of former Wexford player Ciarán Deely, will be seeking their first victory of the campaign.

London went down heavily to Derry last Sunday, having lost their opening round game narrowly to

Limerick, so Deely will be anxious for his side to open their account on home soil.

McLoughlin described the second-half collapse to Leitrim in the opening round as being 'quite traumatic', so he was looking for an immediate response.

And that is exactly what he got from his 14-man side after Glen Malone received a straight red card after 40 minutes.

They were one point adrift at the time, playing into a stiff breeze, with one expecting in the circumstances that Antrim would push on.

'We would not have been happy going in at half-time in the position we were in, 0-5 each, with the second-half into the wind, and having struggled for scores,' McLoughlin said.

'Then within five minutes of the re-start, reduced to fourteen, it needed something drastic to salvage the game.

'We had introduced Daithí at half-time. He made an immediate impact, while his goal was pivotal. While I was confident we could get a victory, the goal was still a huge moment.

'We were hanging in but maybe we would have turned it around [either way] but that goal was crucial,' McLoughlin added.

'We learned a lot about ourselves yesterday (Sunday). We were obviously disappointing against Leitrim where we did not do ourselves justice. But against Antrim the goal was a huge moment.

'One thing we have learned is that we must focus on each half, not just the game. Right now we will train, focus on the opening half against London and take it from there, but we must make sure we do not waste what we have achieved and under perform.

'We have achieved nothing to have us getting ahead of ourselves at the moment. There is still a lot of football to be played in Division 4.

'London will be difficult at home as next weekend is going to be another dog fight. We need to dig it out so we must stick to our game and utilise possession.

'We have to respect possession, work hard, repeating the second-half against Antrim. We held possession, and used the ball until space presented itself, which led to the goal.

'There is no point in us been afraid of anything as we can do nothing should we be tentative. Game management is vital and that is what we are working on.

'It's always difficult to get a result in London so it will be no different for us,' he continued.

Meanwhile, McLoughlin has a number of injury concerns in the lead-up to the game.

Corner-forward John Tubritt was forced to retire before half-time with a recurring ankle problem, while both Conor Devitt and Conor Carty are nursing hamstring strains. Veteran Brian Malone is carrying a number of knocks out of the Antrim game also.

McLoughlin said he is hopeful that they will be all available for selection. 'We will look at them this week in training. We will be without Glen Malone (suspension) as we will not be appealing the red card, but we are hopeful that Gavin Sheehan will be available for his first league outing following

injury. We will know more later in the week,' he added.

Meanwhile, it was pleasing to see both Lee Chin and Rory O'Connor return to competitive action for their first hurling league outing following injury.

Both were introduced as second-half substitutes in the second round league victory over Cork in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday which should leave them available to start the home clash against Tipperary on Sunday week (February 16).

Given the dreadful playing conditions, Wexford will be happy to have achieved their first league victory down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh over Cork since 1993.

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