Thursday 18 January 2018

McEnaney happy to be back on the road with Wexford

McEnaney has turned to a number of his trusted sidekicks as he built his backroom team. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
McEnaney has turned to a number of his trusted sidekicks as he built his backroom team. Photo by Paul Mohan/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney answers the phone and the noise of the road can be heard in the background.

It's probably to be expected. It's about a five-hour round trip from his home outside Carrickmacross in Monaghan to Wexford's training base in Ferns. His new role means there's plenty of time spent in the car.

So he uses the time to make calls and ensure things are running smoothly at home. There are business interests in Dublin too that he can check up on on the way home to help break up the trip. For McEnaney, the time spent on the road is the only negative with his new role as Wexford football manager.

"It has been most enjoyable," McEnaney said of his first few months in charge of the Slaneysiders.

"The players are brilliant, a very committed group of lads. The travelling is demanding but when you arrive on site the Wexford County Board have done a fantastic job of providing everything you need."

Before he formally accepted the job, McEnaney approached the senior players such as Ciarán Lyng, Ben Brosnan, Brian Malone and others to ensure they'd be available in 2017.

He has also managed to coax a few more of their Leinster U-21-winning side of 2011 back into the fold, including John Lacey who hasn't been active in the last couple of years.

"I approached those lads before I even took the job," McEnaney said of the senior players. "You need experience. You can go nowhere without experience and blending those lads in with the newer faces is what the first few months have been about."

McEnaney (pictured) has turned to a number of his trusted sidekicks as he built his backroom team. Martin McElkennon is back as coach, a role he also filled for McEnaney when he was in charge of both Meath and Monaghan.

His Monaghan contacts also see DBSM Centre of Excellence for High Performance helping out through Shea McAleer, who formerly worked as Munster Rugby's Lead Physio.

And while there are some familiar faces around the camp, McEnaney admits surprise at how much more scientifically advanced inter-county set-ups have become since he left the Meath job back in 2012.

"There's been a big change there in terms of GPS, loading systems and the whole analysis of football and how it is done now. That is the biggest change and you just have to get up to speed with that and know how to use that information and put it to best use.

"Other than that I suppose my backroom team is a little bit smaller than it has been previously. Sometimes that can be too big and you spend time managing that."

Wexford start their season with the visit of UCD on Sunday to Gorey as the second part of a double-header with the county's hurlers, who are managed by Davy Fitzgerald.

Impossible

The dual player issue is one that McEnaney won't have encountered too extensively in his previous roles but over a short phone call with Fitzgerald, the pair agreed it couldn't be done at inter-county level.

"We spoke on the phone for a brief while," he said. "We both agreed it was virtually impossible for someone to play both and we said to let lads who want to play hurling play hurling and the lads who want to play football play football and we left it at that and just make the camps the best possible environments they can be."

McEnaney went on to say the current group of Wexford footballers remind him of the Monaghan team he took charge of back in 2004.

"There are similarities in that they are a very committed group of lads and all they want is football. And they are starting in Division 4 which is where Monaghan were at the time. But look we're in Division 4 for a reason and didn't get out of it last year because we weren't good enough."

And while the O'Byrne Cup will be used to test new players and bring older stars up to speed, McEnaney is making no secret of where his immediate priorities lie.

"It's been great so far. There'll probably be bumps on the road but the only game we are looking at is the first round of the league against Limerick on February 5."

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