Brosnan adamant young Model men have belief for fresh Leinster assault
BEN BROSNAN sighs at the memory. Nine missed frees from his boot in last year's Leinster semi-final and Wexford watched another chance at history drift away.
He still can't quite explain it. The previous year he missed just 11 across all his games in league and championship, and then he kicks nine in one Croke Park day against Dublin. It was a profligacy that proved too much to recover from.
Was it the jeering from the Hill that put him off? Definitely not, he insists, he had practised with boos blaring out in his headphones. In fact, he would probably have been more put out if the Dubs had fallen silent. Was it the wind? Maybe, but he kicked some glorious points from play that day.
"It was just one of those days and it hasn't happened since. I was taking frees for Wexford in the league and scoring 80 or 90pc of them. I look back on it every once in a while just to see what was going wrong, and I still can't point out what I did wrong."
After a stellar 2011, he concedes that second-season syndrome might have set in. The injury to Ciaran Lyng also increased the focus on the Bannow-Ballymitty man.
"Looking back, it was definitely more difficult for me, being marked tighter. With Ciaran injured in one or two games I was the main lad to be marked, whereas the year before Ciaran was, so I got a bit more slack."
On the evidence of the past two seasons, odds of 20/1 about Wexford winning Leinster look generous, as no one in the province has come closer to toppling the Dubs. Bryan Cullen acknowledged as much when addressing a crestfallen Wexford dressing-room last year. And this year, they find themselves on the weaker side of the draw too, having avoided Kildare and the Dubs.
They set out on the trail of an elusive Leinster title once more tomorrow when they take on Louth in Drogheda. Brosnan (pictured) said there is some disappointment in the camp that former manager Jason Ryan pitched up with Kildare.
"A lot of us were disappointed. Maybe not disappointed that he left, but the way he went to Kildare after that. We thought he was just taking the year out."
Even with Ryan's departure and Wexford's relegation from Division 2, Brosnan insists a Leinster title remains in his side's grasp, and he hailed the impact of new manager Aidan O'Brien.
"With Aidan and a new strength and conditioning coach coming in I feel an awful lot faster and fitter than I did this time last year," he said. "It's a very young team. Inside the dressing-room we do believe there is a Leinster final in us. The U-21s were only beaten by Dublin by a couple of points last year and then Dublin went on to walk it so there are a lot of good young lads there and they believe."