Preview: Leinster SFC - Carlow v Wexford
Sunday May 21
Leinster SFC First Round
Carlow v Wexford, Netwatch Cullen Park, 3pm
By Cian O’Connell
Hope has returned to the heart of Wexford GAA. Suddenly the county is alive with optimism. Davy Fitzgerald and Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney brought a sprinkling of glamour, but, more importantly, wins are being collected.
With promotions secured in both codes Wexford are loaded with hope again with the prospect of two high profile home Leinster Championship matches a distinct possibility. The footballers must beat Dublin to set up an Innovate Wexford Park encounter, while the hurlers need to overcome Laois to book a date with Kilkenny.
McEnaney still adores being involved with Gaelic Football teams. “I love the game, there's nothing that beats playing football and I'll say that to any Gaelic Footballer,” McEnaney says.
“Absolutely nothing beats playing it, I played it as long as I could. I played along with my son actually in a Junior B game with the club when I was 37 or 38 so I played as long as I possibly could.
“When I was still managing Monaghan I was still playing junior B football with the club, but listen there's nothing that beats playing football, the next best thing is to manage players and why did I go back?
“I just felt last summer I had that want to go back managing again and football is a disease, like it’s a bad disease and it's very hard to get it out of your system.”
So McEnaney was delighted to embrace the challenge and responsibility of trying to attain Division Three status. “I just felt that Wexford came looking for me and I thought about it and you know you need to probably be winning every League match or close to every National Football League match to be enjoying your football and I felt that Wexford were capable of doing that in Division 4. I have enjoyed them and I hope they have enjoyed me.”
Wexford embarked on a five match winning run in the competition to realise their first objective, three defeats followed, including in the Division Four decider, but McEnaney isn’t perturbed.
“It was easy to park that because when the final whistle went in the National Football League against London and we were promoted to Division 3 it wasn't the last game it was the third last game which was a great place to find ourselves in.
“Once that was over that was the National Football League really over for us and our concentration completely switched to Carlow then.”
Carlow were reasonably satisfied with how their own spring campaign went, claiming four victories and a draw from seven.
At Netwatch Cullen Park Carlow lost to London before beating Limerick, Waterford, and Wexford at that venue. Daniel St Ledger, Darragh Foley, Brendan Murphy, and Eoghan Ruth all enjoyed productive bursts during Carlow's campaign.
Turlough O’Brien lost to Louth in an open and entertaining clash a year ago, but they beat Wicklow in the Qualifiers.
Carlow were spirited when losing to Cavan and remain quietly confident about causing a surprise against Wexford, who will be spearheaded by Daithi Waters, Ben Brosnan, Ciaran Lyng, and PJ Banville.
Wexford bring an experienced outfit to Carlow, but O’Brien will certainly have the locals primed for a battle.
WEXFORD: Shane Roche; Michael Furlong, Naomhan Rossiter, Jim Rossiter; Eoghan Nolan, Joey Wadding, Brian Malone; Daithi Waters, Colm Kehoe; Kevin O'Grady, Ben Brosnan, James Stafford; Ciaran Lyng, John Tubritt, PJ Banville.