'Banty' vision has reopened Wexford eyes to their potential
When Seamus McEnaney first looked at the list of Allianz FL Division Four fixtures after his appointment as Wexford football manager last autumn, he identified the first two games as critical to their promotion prospects.
A home match against Limerick and then a trip to Leitrim, who have an above-average record at Carrick-on-Shannon, would quickly provide direction.
"I felt if we got four points out of the first two games we had a serious chance of being promoted after five games," he said.
And so it came to pass in Wexford Park on Sunday as the footballers quickly followed the hurlers by securing that promotion in as quick a time as possible with 100pc records for both teams remaining intact.
That bit of parting business by former chairman Diarmuid Devereux appears to have paid off, for now, on both fronts.
McEnaney's Wexford are now the only team not have to dropped a point in all four divisions after Louth's loss to Armagh. For the manager it's early justification of sorts for the decision to take on a job that required near five-hour round trips from his Monaghan base three times a week.
"I told the lads after the game we got promotion in Leitrim in that second-half. It was the game that this group of lads stood up and showed character. We were three points down and down to 14 men against Leitrim who had a big win the previous week. That was the day we got promotion, not Sunday."
For 'Banty', as he is popularly known, it was a fourth league promotion as a manager, having brought Monaghan up three times in the last decade.
But there have been relegations too, most notably with Meath in 2012 when their drop to Division Three precipitated an executive-backed heave against him in mid-season that was halted by the clubs. After stepping down in Meath that year he remained out of management for four years but Wexford presented an unusual route back that he willingly took.
"Within my own mind promotion has helped to justify the travel. I'm really enjoying it because of the group of players, how they have responded and the dramatic change within the group in 16 weeks. When they came in to training on November 15, we weren't in the shape of an inter-county team or anywhere close to it," he said.
"For the last 16 weeks they have given their life to Wexford football and they deserve their promotion."
He has also praised the work of his medical team, headed by another Monaghan-based recruit Gerry Nolan, for having all but one of the squad available for Sunday's match.
"To be able to pick from 34 players in a home game against London with promotion guaranteed at the end of it, you couldn't have been in a better place."
Division Four is a challenging environment for any team, he admitted. "The longer you are in Division Four, the more you become like a Division Four team. This is Wexford's second season it. It's as long as you want to be in it. Before Sunday we had won four games by a combined total of 10 points," he pointed out.
In his four years away the advances in sports science related to inter-county preparation has really opened his eyes.
"The use of GPS systems, video analysis, nutrition, they were the big changes I have seen. Not that I wasn't using them but how they have developed. No doubt, 100 per cent, we would not be promoted without the way we used video analysis."
Meanwhile, Ben Brosnan is locked in a battle with the Wexford County Board over a club transfer request which has been refused.
Brosnan, one of McEnaney's key players, is seeking to move from his home club Bannow/Ballymitty in the south of the county to Castletown in the north, close to where he now runs a sportswear business in Gorey Business Park.
Castletown chairman Gabriel Maxwell has indicated the player will take his case to the Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) if he has to. Castletown are also questioning the make-up of the committee which is blocking the request.
If Brosnan refused to play for Bannow-Ballymitty, it could potentially jeopardise his inter-county status.
"He produced all the evidence and all the relevant documents to cover his transfer request," said Maxwell. "Even our club representative, Colm Morris, was refused permission to speak at the follow-on meeting which lasted more than an hour. We cannot understand the decision for the player is eligible to play with us."
Bannow-Ballymitty have given their backing to the transfer request, signing all the relevant paperwork and even giving him a letter wishing him the best of luck in his new venture.
The matter may come before a Wexford County Board meeting tonight.