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John Hegarty: 'The league is crucial'
By Cian O'Connell
New Wexford senior football manager John Hegarty wants to generate momentum in the Allianz Football League.
Hegarty, who made a significant coaching impact with Shelmaliers, is eager to enjoy a productive league campaign.
"As a first year in management it is all about building momentum and getting things going," Hegarty says.
"I think the Tailteann Cup will be hugely important, it will give the lads summer football to enjoy. When you're starting from scratch it is still about the league.
"You have got to find out who you have, build a panel, build a team and a pattern of play. Everything we are doing is new, from that perspective the league is still crucial for what we are doing."
So Hegarty acknowledges for the long term development of Wexford football earning promotion is the priority and ambition.
"It is, this is going to be the same for every manager in Division Four," Hegarty says. "The league next year is effectively our Championship.
Wexford senior hurlers and footballers Mark Fanning, Eoin Porter, Darragh Brooks, and Rory OConnor model the new commemorative jersey launched by Wexford GAA and ONeills to mark 130 years since the countys first All-Ireland success: the 1893 All-Ireland Football title won by the Selskar Young Irelands club from Wexford town.
"If you're going to progress, you need to be reassembling at this time next year as a Division Three team. That is not saying you're not going to take the Championship or the Tailteann Cup seriously. The way I look at that is before we play Laois in the Championship we have 10 competitive games.
"Depending on the results of those the Championship is a very different prospect. If you're going in with seven, eight or nine wins or going in with one, two or three wins - it is a very different prospect."
During his own playing days Hegarty recalls Wexford embarking on an interesting adventure.
"Going back to my playing career, I spent half of my playing career in the very depths of Division Four where it was very difficult to gain any momentum, traction or encouragement to keep players," he recalls.
"Gradually, over a 10-year period we ended up at a point when we were operating in Division One of the league and getting to a final.
"And all of a sudden everything we were doing was of a higher standard because that is what was needed and expected from Division One football.
"So, Im in no way downgrading the Tailteann Cup or its importance, but to be operating at a higher standard you need to be going back to week-in, week-out and thats the league, seven games each year. Its really crucial."