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model strides 'I'm not blaming Davy for this, we need new blood' - Martin Storey's 2021 Wexford solution


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Wexford and Oulart-The Ballagh legend Martin Storey believes that ‘new blood’ is the vital ingredient missing from Davy Fitzgerald’s Model County squad. Photo: Sportsfile

Wexford and Oulart-The Ballagh legend Martin Storey believes that ‘new blood’ is the vital ingredient missing from Davy Fitzgerald’s Model County squad. Photo: Sportsfile

Wexford and Oulart-The Ballagh legend Martin Storey believes that ‘new blood’ is the vital ingredient missing from Davy Fitzgerald’s Model County squad. Photo: Sportsfile

Wexford were the forgotten team of the 2020 hurling championship after making a tame exit and Model legend Martin Storey believes that "new blood" is needed in order for Davy Fitzgerald's side to bounce back this season.

Fitzgerald has made massive strides during his term in the sunny south-east with their 2019 Leinster triumph an obvious highlight, but last year was a write-off as they shipped heavy defeats to Galway and Clare without raising a gallop.

Storey is quick to praise the progress made under Fitzgerald - who has said that this will be his fifth and final year in charge - but the 1996 All-Ireland-winning captain admits that "supporters are fickle" after their fortunes took a nosedive and he feels that an injection of fresh faces is needed to re-energise Wexford.

"Supporters are fickle, supporters want victories and they want great days out. They want everything so they don't be thinking back to winning Leinster in 2019. There was a lot of expectation going into last year and I just felt we were lethargic," Storey says.

Hunting

"We didn't look like that team that was hunting like a pack of wild dogs in 2019 when nobody got settled on anything. It didn't matter if it was a Kilkenny, Galway, Dublin or Tipperary man on a ball, he was hunted down by two Wexford men. We just didn't get to that level of effort last year.

"Davy has done a great job with us, but, and I'm not blaming Davy for this, we need new blood and we need young lads.

"We need two or three coming in every year and Waterford are proof of that, same with the Mayo footballers. They introduced a few rockets.

"We didn't introduce any new blood and you need to because once you play Davy's game, unless you have new lads playing it different then the opposition will read it fairly quickly. We looked like we were read fairly easily against Clare and Galway and they weren't contests for 15 or 20 minutes before the end."

Storey laments the lack of competitive action which they had before championship commenced due to the early completion of the Wexford SHC - "you could see that they hadn't been in the heat of championship battle for a while" - but that will not be the case this season.

County action will take place before club championships so that won't be a problem, while the Oulart-The Ballagh great also hopes that Wexford's possession-based approach is less predictable with more variety needed to keep the opposition on their toes.

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Martin Storey. Photo: Sportsfile

Martin Storey. Photo: Sportsfile

Martin Storey. Photo: Sportsfile

"There's only one game-plan that works in a game, whoever is winning and dominating, that's why you need Plan B and Plan C and we didn't look like we had them last year.

"If Plan A fails, you have to be able to turn then to Plan B," the 56-year-old All-Ireland winner says.

"You go back to Páirc Uí Chaoimh a few years ago (2018) when Clare were running riot and we started playing long ball in and Conor McDonald got on the end of one and all of a sudden we were back in the game with a goal, that's because we went back to Plan B which is long ball into good high-fielding forwards.

"We didn't seem to change much last year. We were playing a lot of diagonal, cross-field balls and hitting the ball backwards, it was as if they were afraid to go forward with it and when a team knows you're playing like that, they can push up on you and all of a sudden you end up under unreal pressure.

"How we didn't lay a glove on Tony Kelly (against Clare) is beyond belief? I don't think he was put on the back of his a**e and I'm not talking about dirty stuff, but there was no aggression and that will have to change this year."

Storey expects the "fire" to be burning brightly among the Wexford squad this year, but he implores Fitzgerald to play their best forwards closer to goal rather than having them in defensive positions where they can't threaten the scoreboard.

"I think there will be a bounce this year because I think the way Davy will approach it, he'll be a bit more ruthless and tough and there'll be hard training and dogging and giving them the fire to go again. It's not Davy's fault that the lads never caught fire," the three-time All-Star adds.

"People often blame managers, but when 15 lads cross the white line, it's up to the lads on the field.

"I'm not giving out about Davy's game-plan because when it goes wrong, there's very little you can do on the sideline that can change it.

"I'd love to hurl our danger men in the danger areas, though. I think Rory O'Connor is possibly one of the most dangerous six forwards in Ireland.

"I don't think anyone can match him for speed and toughness and he has left and right sides.

"He can take you on, he'll mix it up and he's not afraid to go to war and we were playing him short puck-outs to our own '21 at times. He needs to be where he can do damage, where he's turning over the scoreboard.

"Paul Morris is a sharp-shooting corner-forward and I didn't think he crossed into our '70 against Clare. That will have to change this year."

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