HomeFootballWexford captain Liam Coleman is eager to follow the Louth ‘model’ in...

Wexford captain Liam Coleman is eager to follow the Louth ‘model’ in Tailteann Cup


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“We were a point up and we had survived a black card and you’d think that we were in a position to win that game and we just didn’t, whatever was lacking, experience or whatever, we were just exposed for mistakes that we probably wouldn’t have been exposed for throughout the year,” said Coleman, whose side has since lost its opening Tailteann Cup game against Sligo.

Next up is a home tie against Antrim on Saturday, where they’ll be hoping to make amends.

With Louth since putting up a highly impressive resistance against the All-Ireland champions, Dublin, Coleman sees them as a benchmark for counties like Wexford.

“We’d look at them as a bit of a model of what we’d like to achieve and like to do. We’ve seen that for 55-60 minutes on the pitch we were there or thereabouts with them on an individual level. I think the difference is just as a collective they were more versed or more, I suppose, in sync together, and used to being in games at that stage in matches.

“They just have so much more experience playing together at that level and winning games which is important and we don’t. And although they have changed managers they have had consistency in the player group which is really, really important.”

Coleman is in his fifth year in the senior panel, having been drafted in the year his club Castletown Liam Mellows won a senior football championship. Paul Galvin was in charge of Wexford; while his reign was cut short, the Kerry man left a positive imprint.

“He had unbelievable insights into the game, insights our team still uses,” as Coleman explains. “But look, I suppose it was his first time managing as well. I remember him saying it himself, there were things he wasn’t expecting, he wasn’t expecting it to be as difficult or as time-consuming.

“He was obviously living in Dublin too, so travelling a lot. I think he definitely struggled with that. And he came in and I suppose he stirred the pot, dropped a few well-established players. It was controversial, it was probably not how you want to start any managerial campaign.

“But at the same time he was, I suppose, man enough to make those decisions and back his philosophy and his decision-making which I think no one would have ever questioned Galvin on that, or on his career or anything.

“So look I think it was amazing to be around someone of his calibre for such a young player but it ended very quickly too. We were on the road down to Wexford Park for our first training session back after Covid and a text come through to say training is called off and a few hours later text comes through to say he was stepping down. That was it. Shane Roche stepped up. He was Galvin’s second-hand man, so there was a bit of consistency.”

The current manager, John Hegarty, has cut a positive impression too.

“He’s very passionate, John is, he is a passionate Wexford man in general. He is very involved in Wexford at every level, politically and in schools, all that kind of stuff, and he was a really good footballer for Wexford too.

“He would have been involved in successful Wexford teams so he would take it as his responsibility and I think it’s evident in the way he carries himself that he does put that responsibility on his shoulders to get us back to where he thinks Wexford football should be.

“And I think that’s just affects everyone else in the group, you have that culture where everybody is proud to be there and that might not have been the case for ten years, looking at from 2010 onwards the decline that happened in Wexford in terms of football.

“So yeah he is extremely passionate and he has really good men in around him and hopefully the players can weigh in behind that and do something.”

Antrim made a positive Tailteann Cup start with a home win against Tipperary in Corrigan Park. Team captain Dermot McAleese said they were keen to build on last year’s run to the semi-finals, where they lost to Meath.

McAleese saluted the influence of the former Meath manager Andy McEntee.

“You know Andy, there are no back-doors with him, he is open and honest,” McAleese said. “If there is something to be said, he will say it. And as players, that honesty is invaluable, you know where you stand and what you have to work on.

“It’s been brilliant. He plays a nice brand of football, it is not just sitting back with 15 men behind the ball. He likes to get everyone forward, loads of legs, it is a fast game and hopefully that will serve us well coming into the summer with the harder ground.”

The good start has raised Antrim’s qualification prospects. “We know from last year that topping the group was a huge advantage,” said McAleese, “getting a home quarter-final and not having to play prelim, so we know the advantage of having that and winning your first game is very, very important in that regard.”

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