Bonnar counting the cost of injuries

IT wasn’t meant to be like this! Colm Bonnar came to the Wexford hurling job with high hopes of bringing his considerable experience as player and coach to bear on a team which needed to be revitalised and strengthened, only to be stymied by a worrying sequence of injuries.

And, when it came to their biggest challenge in the Leinster championship they were outsmarted by an emerging Dublin, where Anthony Daly clearly had a lot more going for him.

So, it’s a case of make-or-break for the Slaneysiders in this afternoon’s qualifier with Bonnar once more forced to re-adjust his starting 15, against a Limerick team that is not only more experienced but — he feels — is also stronger. And, to add to his woes, the weather forecast isn’t promising.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom the Model County boss is convinced home advantage has to count in their favour.

Bonnar, who started out in management in Tipperary under Ken Hogan and also worked in Waterford with Justin McCarthy was never in the position of being able to put out his best team. On the missing list are Stephen Nolan and Colm Farrell, two of their most consistent performers in the League, along with Eoin Quigley and Barry Lambert who were lost early in the season.

And for this game, two key members of the attack, Stephen Banville and Tomas Waters, are absent, along with 6-2 Andrew Shore, another forward.

“It’s showing in our results,” he says, pointing out that they only scored 13 points against Offaly in the Division 2 NHL final and against Dublin they were confined to 1-13. “The backs have been performing fairly well; we just need to increase our scoring rate if we are to have any hope of beating Limerick,” he said.

“I won’t say we are too far off the mark but the way Wexford are going at the moment, this game against Limerick is a big test. They are another Division One team and that could have been why Dublin got over the line. You can’t beat that preparation. We have been down in Division Two and four of our games were won by over 20 players. We are not getting a true measure of our players and they are not being tested properly.

“It’s only against the top teams that you learn about players. They learn more about their own game and that forces them to improve at a faster and better rate. I feel our League campaign hampered our preparations for the championship. Limerick had a decent enough run and whether that is going to count against us in this game when it comes to the final couple of minutes I don’t know.”

* Verdict: Limerick

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