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Why was Sean O'Brien in the Wexford dressing room last week? That's just Liam Dunne's way

They were Dancing at the Crossroads after beating Clare – but how will Wexford fare against Waterford tonight?

"Liam is a proud Wexford man and he’s after instilling that in all of us," says Éanna Martin.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

EVEN BEFORE THE opening chords of ‘Dancing at the Crossroads’ rang out from the PA system, the reaction of the Wexford Park crowd last Saturday night told you everything you needed to know.

This win, the ousting of All-Ireland champions Clare after two games and 180 gruelling minutes, was the one they had been waiting for.

They poured out of the stands and onto the pitch. If you didn’t know the date, time or place, you’d swear that Liam MacCarthy itself was on the way back to the Model County for the first time since the glory days of 1996.

Beneath the stands, Sean O’Brien made his way around the winning dressing room, a few words here, a few words there. The Leinster and Ireland back-row has been in and around the place, sharing his thoughts on process and performance whenever he is needed.

That’s the way Liam Dunne does business. He will leave no stone unturned, no phone call unmade, until he succeeds.

Source: hockeyhurlingshinty5/YouTube

In Gerry Fitzpatrick and Paudie Butler, he has two of the country’s most respected coaches and in Liam Griffin — a man who kept his cards close when asked about the specifics of his ‘mentor’ role on the Second Captains podcast this week – he has an All-Ireland winning manager who knows what it takes to get Wexford to the promised land.

“There have been massive changes,” wing-back Éanna Martin says when asked to quantify Dunne’s impact, “but he didn’t do it as drastic as that — he took his time doing it because if you changes things too drastically it might not go down well.

“The changes off the field have been as massive as those on the field. The players are eating right and looking after themselves, and on the field he’s gotten us hurling better.

Liam is a proud Wexford man and he’s after instilling that in all of us.

“He’s after pulling in all the resources,” Martin adds. “He’s done a serious job. He’s on the phone 24/7 trying to rope different people in.”

Shane Tomkins and Ben O'Connor at the end of the game Shane Tomkins and Ben O'Connor celebrate after beating Clare. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

A momentous evening without doubt but give it its proper context; Clare were the reigning All-Ireland champions but this was still a Round 1 qualifier. Before Wexford can even contemplate quarter-final Sunday in Semple Stadium and a meeting with Limerick, they have to take care of business against Waterford tonight.

Have they gotten a little bit ahead of themselves? Not a chance.

“It wasn’t from the players’ point of view that it was over the top really,” Martin insists.

“You could get sucked into in a way but there’s nothing better to focus you than another game in those six days. That’s going to focus anyone.

We were straight to Curracloe beach straight after the game and focusing on Waterford.

“There wasn’t even talk about beating Clare — we were focusing on Waterford because Waterford are waiting there for us now.”

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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