SHANE ROCHE will decide on his future as Wexford Senior football manager following a meeting with the GAA management committee.
Roche will meet with County Board officials within the next week before deciding whether he should stay on as Wexford football boss after a disappointing year marked by failure to gain promotion from the Allianz League Division 4 which must have been their main priority.
Wexford failed to live up to expectations, having started the season with an impressive O’Byrne Cup victory over Laois, but failure to win follow-up games led to an early exit from the competition.
The league campaign didn’t sparke for Roche and his squad. Having lost their opening game to Sligo, they always struggled, and there was little solace for the remainder of the campaign. As a result, Wexford are now back in the bottom three to four counties in the country.
This is a surprising statistic given that it’s not that long since Wexford were challenging for provincial honours, while also gaining a place in an All-Ireland semi-final in 2008, but then again football had been in decline long before Roche inherited a team that was low in confidence.
Many will say the buck stops with management, since they are the ones who prepare the team. While they will shoulder much of the blame as they try to improve matters, one must stress that Wexford football is in disarray through no fault of the current management structure.
Reflecting on the championship, Wexford had a morale-boosting opening round victory over Offaly, but lost heavily to Dublin in the follow-up game where they could only manage a meagre four points.
The Tailteann Cup in which Wexford had hoped to finish their season on a high saw Offaly reverse the championship result, and we all know what happened the midlanders subsequently.
It hasn’t been a good year for Wexford football. The Minors disappointed in the round-robin with defeats to both Carlow and Wicklow, while the Under-20 team suffered a morale-sapping opening round defeat to Longford.
These are very tough times for Wexford football. The support base has always been poor, but this year shrunk to an all-time low.
As it stands at present the Wexford managerial post is vacant, with Roche having completed his three years.
When Wexford come to address the position his name will still figure prominently, unless he takes a decision to step aside.
Roche assumed the role in unusual circumstances, after then manager Paul Galvin resigned in mid-term.
Roche was part of the backroom team at the time, and as a result he was asked to step up to the managerial role at a stage when the pandemic was playing havoc throughout the world.
It is not known if Roche has received any positive soundings, but appointing a team manager can be quite complicated.
But if he is to continue there will be much soul-searching, particularly in relation to what football structures will be in place at under-age level in order to improve the flow of young players to the Senior set-up.
We all know that under-age is not in a healthy position in either football or hurling in the county.
Whatever way it works out, it’s going to be difficult for Wexford going forward, but hopefully the game can be brought back to a much higher level than it currently enjoys.
Football has always been the subject of intense debate, particularly when comparsions are made with hurling.
The speculation will continue, but it has always been stressed by officials that the sport is on an equal financial footing with their hurling counterparts.
Finance will not remedy the problems, deep-rooted as they are on their own. It will take intense support from the GAA management committee from under-age through to adult level for the game to survive, let alone regain a firm footing in the county.
I think people will know at this stage there is an awful lot of commitment in being a manager. If you are to do it any way successfully, you have to delegate responsibility.
Everyone must be there with a purpose, with no one being present just for the sake of it. That’s essential.