Monday 23 April 2018

Dual roles keep Horeswood 'fresh' in bid to break Leinster duck

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

OVER the past few weeks, Horeswood have fought what is a familiar fight in Wexford GAA circles.

It has been five weeks since their county SFC final win over Castletown but with the club's hurlers involved in a Leinster JHC campaign until last weekend, which included "about 10" of the senior footballers, manager Derek O'Reilly has only been able to bring his side together for one game.

Pursuing both codes is a balance Wexford have been trying to strike for years and, while the footballers' preparations have undoubtedly suffered as a result, O'Reilly wasn't offering up any excuses ahead of tomorrow's trip to Parnell Park to face St Brigid's.

"We are not going to complain, we have this problem because we have had a successful year and that's never a bad thing. And who knows, maybe a few weeks away hurling will bring them back fresh," said O'Reilly.

That their entry to the Leinster campaign comes five weeks after beating holders Castletown in the Wexford final is due in part to the decision to give Dublin some time to run off their club championship.

In the meantime, their star forward -- and only Wexford regular -- PJ Banville picked up ankle ligament damage that is in danger of leaving him sidelined tomorrow.

Banville's absence would represent a major headache for O'Reilly, who is in charge of the senior footballers by accident rather than design.

Horeswood pursue an admirable policy of recruiting managers from within the club and when he was approached, he indicated a preference for playing for another season. However, with the start of the season looming and the role still vacant, he took the plunge and mixes cameo appearances on the field with running things from the sideline.

"I had intended playing on. And have been playing 10 or 15 minutes here and there. It's definitely different because instead of focusing on your own game, you are thinking about 100 other things," he said. "But there are two selectors with me, they know their football and know what to do when the need arises."

O'Reilly is just one of the squad in the autumn of their playing days.

The spine of the team that secured the club's first senior title in 2005 has remained largely intact, with the experience of former county stars Leigh O'Brien, Thomas Howlin and Ciaran Deely crucial.

And while some new blood has been introduced, O'Reilly admits it is last chance saloon for some to secure a first win for the club in Leinster.

"We got Mattock Rangers from Louth in '05. We had just won our first title and we didn't take it as seriously as we should have and we ended up losing by a point," he said.

In '06, they drew away to Moorefield but lost the replay in Wexford -- the Kildare side went on to win Leinster. In '09, Horeswood were beaten by Longford side Clonguish in a game where "just nothing went our way".

"It's something that has definitely driven the lads on this year, they want to make an impression in Leinster."

Standing in the way are St Brigid's, who are in action for the sixth consecutive weekend after they dismissed Meath's Summerhill with ease in Navan last week.

"As Dublin champions, they are automatically one of the favourites for the All-Ireland. They might have been surprise winners of Dublin for some because they didn't have all the big names like say St Oliver Plunketts did in the county final," said O'Reilly.

"They have Barry Cahill but, overall, they are a very solid, dependable unit. Paddy Andrews and Philly Ryan up front are very dangerous so we are going to have to be at our best to beat them."

Irish Independent

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