All the attention around Wexford’s pre-season has been focused on the county’s excellent backroom team.
And in that regard, Darragh Egan is very much in vogue in a GAA sense. High-level leadership additions are now de rigueur. Tomás Ó Sé joined Offaly. Kieran Donaghy is in another season with Armagh. Liam Sheedy works with Monaghan footballers, while Cork bowlers used to pick All Black record holder Doug Howlett mastermind at one point.
And Wexford was not found wanting in this regard. Within the space of just a week, it emerged Billy Walsh, a renowned boxing trainer, was lending his time to training senior pitchers, while another famous Wexford son, Gordon Darcy, was also involved.
They are part of the team that will guide Model County after the Davy Fitzgerald era. Wexford’s time under Clare’s man saw Leinster glory and the closest to an All-Ireland final appearance since the glorious summer of 1996. It also saw them rebalance their great rivalry with Kilkenny. However, the last two seasons have been disappointing.
And after being chinned by a Tipperary side coached by current manager Egan in that 2019 semi-final, Wexford have struggled for traction ever since. They pulled off the sweetest of defenses of their Leinster title in 2020, losing to Galway by 13 points, and also saw their summers ended by Clare for two consecutive years.
And since Egan came on board, he’s cast a wide net in finding the right players.
In his two Walsh Cup games to date, he has used 31 players and given out 21 starts. And that’s before Lee Chin, Shaun Murphy, Diarmuid O’Keeffe and Damien and Shane Reck come back ahead of the toughest league opener which sees All-Ireland champions Limerick visit Wexford Park on Sunday week .
“We will have to reduce our squad to 32 players. It will be shortly after the Walsh Cup final when we continue with preparations for Limerick,” Egan said after his side battled to a draw with Kilkenny and secure a place in the final. Tonight’s Walsh Cup with Dublin.
“What we have at the moment is competition for places, which is ideal. A lot of players have raised their hands, so hopefully we see the same thing on Saturday night.
“Listen, we have the league and the All-Ireland champions coming to Wexford for our first league outing, so Dublin will provide the ideal preparation.”
Both Chin and Murphy are set to sit out tonight’s Walsh Cup final with a Dublin side that have been equally experimental.
Boasting an extra game in the Walsh Cup, they used 35 players in their wins over Antrim, Galway and Offaly with the likes of Liam Rushe yet to feature.
Only six players – John Bellew, Daire Gray, James Madden, Conor Burke, Rian McBride and Cian O’Sullivan – have started all of their games so far, as Dublin and Wexford look to work their way to the top of the league. ‘tree. in the province.