*Wexford manager, Darragh Egan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Losing key players was pinpointed by Wexford boss, Darragh Egan as critical when reflecting on their exit from the All-Ireland SHC.
Speaking following Saturday’s quarter-final with Clare, the Tipperary native outlined, “We were six points up with twenty five minutes left. We always knew we were going to be under pressure coming down the home straight and ultimately that’s how it was. We lost a few bodies, a few lads in pivotal positions. Our lads gave everything, they left blood sweat and tears out on that pitch and we couldn’t have asked for anymore from them. Well done to Clare, they got over the line but we made them work every minute for it”.
The loss of forward Rory O’Connor to injury early in t he game was a major blow he said. “He is an absolutely brilliant player and it looks to be a fairly significant injury. He will have a scan in the next few days and hopefully he will be okay for the club championship. He was a big loss to us today as he looked lively and it seemed he was going to do damage on that far wing”.
According to Egan, Wexford “ran out of bodies for a finish, the two Recks were absolutely outstanding, Shane Reck, after a sixteen week hamstring injury, he did an unbelievable job on Tony Kelly as he always does. When the two boys (Reck and O’Keeffe) were replaced holes then began to appear in our defence but to be fair to Clare they started to up the gears and they started to come at us in waves from their half back line and midfield and all credit to them on how they finished the game”.
Reflecting on a season when they “beat Kilkenny, drew with Galway and put it up to Clare”, he stated, “we did more than put it up to Clare. We are happy with the year, We had a 16 game run and only lost 3 and not too many counties can say that but ultimately we finished the year with no silverware. It was on us that we were not in the Leinster final. We are bitterly disappointed today that we didn’t get over the line because we came here to beat Clare. We were very confident we were going to beat them and unfortunately a few things didn’t go our way”.
The primary school principal added, “the luxury of watching from a close seat having been with Liam Sheedy for the last three years but when you get into the melting pot (being a team manager), there is some amount of work. The group we have are very good, We have 12 under 20’s in our 41 strong panel. It’s all about development and development starts today for us and these lads need to be ready when we go back training in December. It’s been a hugely enjoyable experience, something I will have to focus on over the net few months. I want to have a right go at 2023”.