Former captain Darren Stamp has admitted it was “demoralising” at times to play for Wexford and is envious of the current set-up.
Davy Fitzgerald’s Slaneysiders are Leinster title holders after their breakthrough 2019 success and Stamp had fancied them for a serious assault on the All-Ireland this year.
But it’s only a decade ago that “everything was poor”, according to Oulart-The Ballagh great Stamp, who described the set-up “from the county board down” as “substandard”.
Straight talking Stamp pulled no punches when assessing “one of the worst times” in Wexford’s history on the local The Hurling Podcast.
He pointed to the 2011 All-Ireland Phase 2 qualifier defeat to Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds as a particular low point.
“No disrespect to any of the players but some of the players in there wouldn’t get on the Oulart team,” said Stamp.
“You were going out to play teams and I don’t think I’ve ever gone out with Wexford feeling I was inferior to anyone else, Gizzy (Diarmuid Lyng) would tell you the same, Keith Rossiter would tell you the same, you don’t go out to hurl against a fella at county level thinking they’re better than you, but at that stage playing with Wexford you looked around and lads were beaten before they went out.
“We lost to Limerick in, I can’t remember what year it was, but we got a good beating in the qualifiers and I came in after the match and I remember there were nine lads gone, washed, showered, gone.
“No-one went back on the bus. The bus was a quarter full going home to Wexford, that’s how bad things were.
“I remember when Gizzy left the county panel, I rang him to ask him would he change his mind.
“He said: ‘No, things are not right there, things are not going to change’. He went and he was right. I knew things weren’t right there either.
“It was just a pity, the hurlers weren’t there either. Gizzy slogged through it, Keith Rossiter was there in the tough times and he kept doing his best slogging through it, Eoin Quigley, Rory Jacob, the couple of other lads there, I was there.
"It was tough going out when you knew there were other lads who, as I said, they were just beat before they go out.
"Everything was poor, from the county board down, everything was run poor, it was very, very, very substandard. It was demoralising.”
Stamp said he’d love to have played under Fitzgerald and reckons “he’d be the kind of fella that would get me going”.
But the 2007 All-Ireland semi-finalist says Liam Dunne’s role in stopping the rot and reviving the county as boss between 2012 and 2016 shouldn’t be overlooked.
“I think if Liam hadn’t done the physical work that he’d done for two or three years when he was there, I don’t think Davy would have been as successful as he is now,” he said.
“He would have had to do that work which Liam had already done. I don’t think Liam got the credit he deserved. He had most of those same lads, he was unlucky because of injuries that he couldn’t pick his best 15 for most of his games.”
Stamp says Wexford don’t fear anyone now after powering to their first Leinster title in 15 years in 2019.
“You can see the confidence these boys are after getting the last couple of years.
They know if they bring their A game they can beat anyone in Ireland. They proved that last year, just got unlucky in the semi-final. I was looking forward to this year.
"I said at the start of the year that I think if Wexford and Limerick don’t meet, they have a really good chance of getting to the final.”