Wexford old boys Dunne for

NEW Wexford manager Liam Dunne has warned some of his older players to retire now with dignity or face the axe.

Insisting he will do the job “my way”, the 1996 All-Ireland winner leads Oulart-the-Ballagh in Sunday’s Leinster Club SHC final against Coolderry and doesn’t intend commencing inter-county training until January 10.

However, Dunne, who was informed he was being made redundant from his job in Hayes Hotel a day after being handed the Model County role, believes there is dead wood in the panel.

“I just hope there are one or two fellas who have cop on enough to retire gracefully,” said Dunne at the launch of an AIB.

“That’s all I’ll say. One or two of them, their time is up. I didn’t need anyone to tell me when I knew my time was up. I hope they are the same.

“I don’t want to be retiring anybody. I just hope fellas will look at themselves, see what is ahead of them and well if they want to do it again, that’s their own choice. One or two of them should know that now is their time.”

Dunne insisted he will speak to the players explaining his decision if they don’t call time on their own inter-county careers.

“I’ll talk to certain players. Fellas deserve that as well after their years. We’ve moved on from the days when I was dropped from the panel.

“I made my debut in 88, didn’t hurl again with Wexford until 1990. I read it in the newspaper that I was dropped. Players deserve better than that as well.”

Dunne has found his appointment as Colm Bonnar’s successor a welcome distraction as he has prepared his own club for another tilt at an elusive Leinster title. He had accepted the position more than a week before it was announced — before Oulart-the-Ballagh’s Leinster quarter-final over James Stephens — and had his backroom team organised within five days.

“If we had been beaten by James Stephens and it was out about getting the Wexford job then people would have been saying your focus was gone from the Oulart job. I was very conscious of that.

“I just told the players on the Wednesday night — we met at the same time it was being announced in Enniscorthy. I just said to them taking over ye guys is like taking on a headache, now I am moving into a migraine. That’s the challenge that is ahead.”

Agreeing Wexford hurling is “at a very low ebb at the moment”, Dunne is not looking for any honeymoon period.

“You could say ‘how much lower could we get?’ but I think that’s a little bit disrespectful to the lads that stayed in Division 1 and Colm Bonnar in his third year.

“You say you creep before you walk but I’d like to think come January 10 these boys are old enough and big enough and wise enough to know the creeping is over. We’ll take it from there and we’ll move on.

“We’ve Offaly on June 2 and I was saying to Keith Rossiter that we have to set little goals. We haven’t won in Croke Park since 2007 and if we get over Offaly it would be a little goal to get back to Wexford Park but then I was looking at the fixtures and put my hand over my head.

“If we get over Offaly we’ve got Galway in Portlaoise a fortnight later so you’ve a bit to go before we get to Croke Park again but that’s the challenge. I think it’s a huge challenge but it’s what I’m looking for as well.”

Based on his advances with Oulart-the-Ballagh, Dunne will look to extract inspiration from slights aimed at Wexford. He recalled an incident on the sideline in the club’s semi-final win over Clough Ballacolla at Wexford Park last Sunday week.

“I was walking by a guy on the line the other day involved with the Laois champions in Wexford Park and he was roaring and shouting. He was waiting for a reaction. He said, ‘They’ll do the Wexford thing, they’ll do the Wexford thing — they’re sh**ting themselves, they’re sh**ting themselves’.

“[Oulart-the-Ballagh’s] Eoin Moore just stuck the ball over the bar and I just walked by with a smile on my face. That’s where we are, pushing on it from there.”

Before the quarter-final win over James Stephens, he recalled a text message he had received earlier in the year after they lost the postponed Leinster final to O’Loughlin Gaels.

As Dunne recounted: “I got a text message 28 minutes and 32 seconds past 10pm on January 31 from a guy that said to me, he wanted to congratulate me on the great team I have, unfortunately we didn’t win the Leinster club final, the better team lost on the day.

“The quote was that the bigger heart and the bigger balls won the day. It was Niall Rigney.

“I just let one of the lads read it out in the dressing room on the Monday before the game. Little did I think our paths would cross 10 months later with him manager of James Stephens.

“And we talked about balls and heart and we had an abundance of it in Nowlan Park and we needed an abundance of it the last day against the Laois champions.”

Who’s on Dunne’s chopping block?

MICK JACOB

32 next year, Jacob, a club-mate of Dunne’s, has reinvented himself in the half-back line and midfield for Wexford in recent years. Has been playing well for Oulart-the-Ballagh and looks a decent bet for a 12th inter-county season.

EOIN QUIGLEY

A CRUCIATE injury ruled Quigley out of the 2009 season and the 29-year-old’s struggled to get back to his excellent form of the mid ‘00s ever since. Hampered somewhat by an early season injury, he didn’t start either of the county’s Leinster games but did come on against Kilkenny and was in midfield for the qualifier defeat to Limerick.

DARREN STAMP

CONSIDERING Liam Dunne describes him as a leader, he’s unlikely to let go of his club-mate just yet even if he’s coming off a tough 2011 inter-county season due to injury.

MALACHY TRAVERS

ANOTHER of the 2004 brigade, the Ballyboden St Endas defender was almost ever-present in the ‘00s but hasn’t featured in the starting line-up as regularly over the past couple of seasons. A thumb injury marred his progress earlier this season.

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