‘No ex­cuses this year’

Man­ager McLough­lin looks ahead to Louth chal­lenge

Gorey Guardian - - SPORT - BREN­DAN FUR­LONG Sports re­porter

HAV­ING LEFT a dis­mal 2018 be­hind them, Wex­ford Se­nior foot­ballers start off the 2019 cam­paign in a more pos­i­tive frame of mind as they look for­ward ea­gerly to their Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup opener away to Louth on Satur­day.

With Brian Malone still to de­cide on his fu­ture role, if any, man­ager Paul McLough­lin is ex­pected to in­clude many new faces from last sea­son’s set-up, with a par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on build­ing a squad for the Di­vi­sion 4 Na­tional League cam­paign.

Wex­ford will be with­out some of their more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers like John Tubritt, Eoghan Nolan, Malone and Daithí Waters, who have been given an ex­tended break fol­low­ing a lengthy club cam­paign.

De­spite this, McLough­lin is still look­ing to field the best team that is avail­able to him.

‘We have a few in­juries but what we con­tem­plate do­ing is start­ing with play­ers whom we be­lieve are ready for this game. We have an av­er­age of 23 play­ers train­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis so we will be pick­ing the best team from those train­ing,’ he said.

‘Play­ers like Niall Hughes, Jonatan Bealin and Michael O’Re­gan will all start, while Shane Doyle, Gavin Sheehan and Martin O’Con­nor are also likely to fea­ture. They are shap­ing up well and are the fu­ture of Wex­ford foot­ball.’

Wex­ford had a pre-ar­ranged chal­lenge game with Of­faly at their Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence in Kil­cor­mac on Sun­day, but McLough­lin came away with mixed feel­ings.

‘We trailed by seven points at half-time, led by three points go­ing into the clos­ing seven min­utes, but in the end lost out by 3-13 to 1-16.

‘It was a chronic day weather-wise, but these are the type of games we have to learn to close out. It’s all about at­ti­tude and ap­pli­ca­tion.

‘If we can get that right it would go a long way. A few wins would do so much for the team, for their con­fi­dence, so that is why it’s im­por­tant even to start win­ning chal­lenge games,’ he added.

This was Wex­ford’s first game un­der the new rules, and McLough­lin is pre­pared to give all of them a chance.

‘The play­ers are adapt­ing but still have some way to go. With the hand­pass the play­ers have al­ready learned to play the foot pass in be­tween the three passes, to buy back the three hand­passes.

‘It may bring more pos­i­tiv­ity to the game but the big teams will still re­main at the top,’ he said.

Look­ing ahead to the Louth game, McLough­lin re­alises it will be a real chal­lenge.

‘We have Louth, Meath and Laois in our group, all dif­fi­cult games, but that is what we need. We should not be afraid, as should the play­ers get their at­ti­tude right they can make progress. We have made progress but now we just have to show it.

‘This year there will be no ex­cuses. We just have to show up and de­liver and adopt the best pos­si­ble at­ti­tude go­ing into ev­ery game. Now it’s about con­sis­tency and at­ti­tude but the play­ers are buy­ing into this,’ he said.

‘Like the Of­faly game, it’s dis­ap­point­ing not to see it out. That’s what we have to bring to the ta­ble, see­ing out games, as a cou­ple of wins would be a tremen­dous boost to the play­ers’ con­fi­dence.

‘We travel to play Louth, a real test. They were rel­e­gated from Di­vi­sion 2 last sea­son, we were rel­e­gated from Di­vi­sion 3, so there is still a bit of a gap be­tween us. What we need is to start clos­ing the gap and get­ting some wins un­der our belt,’ McLough­lin added.

The man­ager said the team will be named later in the week.

Paul McLough­lin,who is start­ing his sec­ond year as Wex­ford Se­nior foot­ball man­ager.

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