Wallace forced to step aside but new faces enter fray
WEXFORD SENIOR football manager Shane Roche has unveiled his full backroom team for the 2022 season.
The New Ross man, who will be entering his third term in charge, has made a host of changes with many new faces that hopefully will help bring Wexford football forward.
The welfare of players is of paramount importance in his plans for the new season. He is determined to ensure that player welfare matters are kept to the forefront of priorities within his plans.
With this in mind, Roche will have Fr. Odhran Furlong in charge of wellbeing, a first for Wexford, if not for any county.
In making such an appointment, Roche stressed: “In the current climate, and indeed the pressure being placed on an elite athlete, it is important for a player to have a person they can talk to on a one-to-one basis, and a person they can trust.
“Fr. Odhran has been very successful with the camogie teams along with the Under-21 hurlers then under J.J. Doyle, while also having an input into the successful Minor hurling team.
“This is really an important appointment. We are one of the first teams to have such a person who can help with the mental wellbeing of players. This is very important for us to get the very best out of players.
“We don’t know what is going on in their lives outside of sport, they may have issues relating to exams, jobs, personal lives. So it’s important to have such expertise in this area, along with expertise in nutrition. All of this will go together. It should prove so beneficial to players,” Roche said.
In announcing his appointments, Roche explained why they will not have Philip Wallace with them as a selector for the new season.
“Philip has recently been appointed principal of Terenure College, so for job reasons he has had to step down. I would like to thank Philip for his input which proved invaluable. I wish him well.”
Alongside Roche will be Castletown’s Anthony Masterson who has been an ever-present. Among the new faces are Gorey-based Neil O’Loughlin, who will be the team coach, as well as St. James’s clubman and former inter-county defender, Graeme Molloy.
O’Loughlin, a teacher in Creagh College, was coach to the Starlights team that won the 2020 county Senior football championship and will prove an invaluable addition to the backroom.
Molloy, whose inter-county career was cut short by a recurring knee injury, will also link up with the squad as a defensive coach, putting the players through their paces several times each month, while Wayne Russell will continue as goalkeeping coach.
St. Vincent’s (Dublin) clubman John Matthews will remain on as strength and conditioning coach, but he will be joined by David Kehoe from the Crossabeg-Ballymurn club.
Nutrition has become an invaluable component for all squads, with Ballyhogue’s Arthur Dunne continuing in the role. Meanwhile, Dave Morris from the Corofin club in Galway will be the opposition analyst, a role he played for the team’s championship clash with Dublin this year. The physio will be Matthew Pearson once again.
With the pre-season now due to commence on December 8, coinciding with the Central Council decision to reintroduce the subsidiary competitions from January such as the O’Byrne Cup, Walsh Cup etc., Roche has all but finalised his squad for the 2022 season.
Having made so much progress in 2021, with a championship victory over Wicklow in Aughrim for the first time in many years, followed by their excellent display against the then reigning All-Ireland champions, Roche and his backroom have since trawled the local scene over recent months.
As a result he has brought in a number of new faces. Introduced to the squad are Andrew Boland (Adamstown), Dean O’Toole (Kilanerin), Dylan Furlong (Sarsfields), Graham Staples and Glen Malone (Shelmaliers), Jack Kehoe (Horeswood), Matt Doyle (Glynn-Barntown), and Rory Heffernan (Castletown).
Looking further afield and towards the future, they have also introduced a group of next generation players featuring Brian Cushe and Rían Fitzpatrick (Naomh Eanna), Ciarán Regan (HWH-Bunclody) and Jack Higgins (Castletown).
Roche added that Aaron Breen (Glynn-Barntown) was unable to commit to the new season owing to his final year studies in college, but he is delighted to welcome back Jim Rossiter (St. Fintan’s) and Robbie Barron (St. James’), with both having recovered from cruciate knee operations.
He also expressed his pleasure at having HWH-Bunclody clubman Ciarán Kavanagh as part of their group. This talented young footballer has recovered from a liver transplant operation after suddenly taking ill in August.
“We are delighted to have Ciarán with us as part of the group. This is where our wellbeing programme helps with players. Ciarán is back with us and hopefully it will help with his recovery,” Roche said.
The manager will meet with two veterans of the squad this week and talk with them regarding their future plans.
“I will meet with Brian (Malone), who is still involved in the provincial club championship with Shelmaliers, and Daithí Waters. Hopefully we will have their experience to help out with the younger
“Both were hugely involved with their clubs so we will sit down for a chat. They have proved wonderful servants to football and both have so much still to offer.”
Roche revealed that promising Horeswood attacker, Seán Nolan, is unavailable for 2022.
“Seán is taking up a work placement for college in Luxembourg as part of his course. That makes him unavailable, but should this fail to materialise owing to the pandemic he will be called back in immediately,” Roche said.
Gone from the 2021 squad are Shane Doyle (Ballyhogue), John Dunne (HWH-Bunclody), Rory O’Connor (Starlights), Donnacha Holmes (Castletown), Conor Swaine (Horeswood), Enda Kelly (Geraldine O’Hanrahans), and Diarmuid Barry (St. Martin’s).
Wexford’s opening Allianz National Football League game will be at home to Sligo on the week-ending February 5-6.