Tuesday 24 April 2018

Rossiter hopes resurgent Wexford can expose any Déise 'doubts'

Former Model skipper sees opportunity knocking for Dunne's troops to continue remarkable summer run

Cruciate victim Andrew Shore has high hopes for his Wexford team-mates. Photo: Sportsfile
Cruciate victim Andrew Shore has high hopes for his Wexford team-mates. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Having gone through some tough times in his Wexford career, Keith Rossiter knows exactly what his former team-mates experienced after their humiliating Leinster SHC quarter-final defeat to Dublin as they awaited the post-mortems from the local scribes.

Battered, bruised and almost broken, the pain of a heavy defeat would rest heavily on Rossiter and there was no looking ahead until the storm created in the county's papers was weathered. Then, you could try to rebuild and move on.

You meet as a team, dissect where it all went wrong and while the former Model skipper acknowledges how painful video analysis would have been for the current squad, it would also have been reassuring. There was some light amid all the darkness.

"Most of the time with games like that it's the mistakes you make as a team like the ball that should've went to hand which they got a goal off and if you can rectify your mistakes, it'll keep you in the game longer. It's simple but it's true," Rossiter says.

"You look and say, 'I made this mistake, my man didn't do anything spectacular' and going back to the Dublin game it was a lot of our mistakes. Liam Ryan getting out in front, losing his hurl and missing a kick on the ball for the first goal when maybe he should have just stood on it.

"It's little things like that which turn games. It refocuses your mind that it's the simple things in the game: the flicks, the hooks, the blocks and they're all in your control. Like the video analysis from the Cork and Dublin games would have been two completely different videos to watch."

The Oulart-The Ballagh defender admits he didn't expect the remarkable resurgence with wins over Offaly and Cork - "how could you see it coming?" - but feels a home draw in Wexford Park and a six-week lay-off has assisted their rehabilitation.

Pressure was mounting for them to deliver a telling performance with Rossiter quick to note that the excitement generated on Slaneyside by a hat-trick of Leinster U-21 titles and a subsequent All-Ireland final appearance had placed a bullseye on Liam Dunne.

"He's the manager, the buck stops with him and a lot of people have it in for him in Wexford. He's there five years at this stage and a lot of lads had it in for him. It's great for him personally that he got the performances in the two games from the lads," he says.

"A couple of knives are probably out of his back after beating Cork but come the weekend if they ship a hiding the knives won't be long going back in, it's the classic pat on the back and the kick in the a*** situation.

"It takes time to bring underage success through into the senior ranks. Take Conor McDonald for instance, his first year in '14 was phenomenal. Then he sort of had the second-year syndrome, it's very hard to put it back to back.

"You're a marked man, people are talking about you in the paper, there's no more surprise element. '15 he didn't do much and in fairness to the chap he's still only 20 or 21. This year he's taken over the role of the free-taker and is striking them well.

"That's pressure on his shoulders before he even strikes a ball. Then, he has to contribute from play and he has been doing that and it's only his third season. You'd be hoping he'd progress unbelievable in the next few years and others along with him too."

With the likes of the talented attacking trio of Jack Guiney, Ian Byrne and Kevin Foley unavailable to Dunne for a variety of reasons, he has shipped a lot of criticism. Cruciate victim Andrew Shore feels the disparaging remarks are not warranted.

"Inter-county hurling isn't for everyone," Shore says. "It's a massive commitment, the same with the football, and it's been a massive talking point throughout the year about that commitment, what lads have to do to perform to their best at the highest level.

"Outside of their inter-county hurling lads have a life as well, hurling, relationships, family, whatever it is, so it is a massive commitment. So maybe it's a case of inter-county hurling isn't for everyone rather than who he hasn't got in playing for him."

Shore, who notched 1-10 in a club game for Parnells last month just six days before surgery, has watched on from the sidelines as a nightmare scenario for Wexford turned into a potential fairytale and he realises tomorrow is "a massive opportunity".

Lee Chin is back to full fitness, inspiring all around him and the squad is "tighter since the Dublin game" but Shore sees a "different animal" facing them with a last four berth at place, a wounded Waterford side bearing no resemblance to the side they overcame in the 2014 Qualifiers.

"They'll be coming back with a massive backlash after their result against Tipperary. It's nearly like us with Dublin, they would've expected to win or at least be competitive so they'll be on the same road as us trying to get back on track," he says.

"We're the underdogs and rightly so. They're not going to perform like they did against Tipp again and maybe it could be the kick in the a*** they need. We'll have a good whack off them and see where it takes us."

Rossiter expects Derek McGrath's men to revert to type but urges Wexford to seize the day and afford themselves the opportunity to exploit any mental fragility in the Déise ranks.

"Will they change tactically? Probably not. But there has to be some doubts in Waterford and you'd be hoping that Wexford can expose that and be close down the home straight. Who knows then?"

Irish Independent

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