By Paul O'Neill
JJ Doyle says he was not put off by time constraints when he agreed to make a dramatic return as Wexford camogie boss - despite remaining in charge of Wexford's U21 side.
Doyle stepped down as Wexford manager last year after three glory-filled seasons which included a hat-trick of All-Ireland titles.
But the Model County has struggled since the departure of Doyle, who has since taken charge of the Wexford U21 hurlers.
While the camogie team reached this season’s National League final, they have lost six members of last year’s All-Ireland final starting line-up - including All-Stars Deirdre Codd, Claire O’Connor and Catherine O’Loughlin - for a variety of reasons.
And their preparations for the Championship received a set-back when boss Martin Lynch quit earlier this month.
With Saturday’s first Championship outing against Group 1 rivals Derry looming on the horizon, Wexford turned to Doyle and he was happy to help out - even at such short notice.
"I would not have gone back with the camogie side if I had thought that it all would have been too much for me" - JJ Doyle
“Obviously it is never ideal to be taking over a side so close to their first Championship game but there were factors which have made it easier for me,” said Doyle.
“I knew most of the squad quite well from my previous involvement and they knew me, so that was a big advantage.
“Also the players were quite fit because they had done a lot of hard training earlier in the year so there has not been a need to come up with plans to get them in shape.”
This week is a particularly busy one for Doyle as he juggles his roles with the camogie and hurling outfits. While he is counting down to the Derry clash at Crumlin with the camogie team, the hurlers have a big game themselves on Wednesday night when they face Carlow at Dr Cullen Park in a Bord Gáis Energy Leinster semi-final.
However while the games and training sessions all add up to a hectic schedule for Doyle, he says he is able to handle it.
He added: “A lot of people have been wondering how I am able to cope with filling these two roles but, to be honest, I have not had a problem.
“Certainly I would not have gone back with the camogie side if I had thought that it all would have been too much for me. It helps a lot that I have fantastic back-room teams with me and that I tend to be well organised myself.
“Also there is no conflict at all between the two sides, which is important.
“Games and training have been on different days although it does mean that I am on the go most days.”
It is quite a change from what Doyle expected for himself this year after he left the camogie team.
“I had not intended to do anything this year in terms of management,” Doyle explained.
“Then the chance to join up with the hurlers came along and I felt it was too good to turn down. It has been a great experience and hopefully we can make it a truly memorable year.”
While Doyle knew Wexford would be bidding for a fourth All-Ireland Camogie crown in a row this year, he reckoned it was right to opt not to look for another term after the 2012 decider.
He concluded: “While we had enjoyed a lot of success, I felt that it was a natural time to go after the third season was over.
“It can be difficult devising new ideas to try and keep a side in contention for honours and it was probably right to allow someone else the chance to come in and freshen things up.
“Now, though, here I am back again and while quite a few players have moved on since last season, I feel we can still be quite competitive in the Championship. In recent years we had a strong squad but some players who were quite talented did not get to play as much as they would have liked because those who were picked to start games generally did well.
“These players who might have been on the fringes are getting the chance to shine more and they have been excellent.
“If everything can continue to come together then we should have a great chance of progressing from our group, which is our main aim for now.”
Friday: TG4 Munster Ladies Football Senior Championship first round: Clare v Cork (Shannon, 7.30).
Saturday: Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Camogie Senior Championship first round, Group 1: Derry v Wexford (Crumlin, 3.0), Kilkenny v Clare (Nowlan Park, 2.30). TG4 Leinster Ladies Football Senior Championship semi-final: Dublin v Kildare (Portmarnock, 2.0).
Sunday: TG4 Leinster Ladies Football Senior Championship semi-final: Meath v Laois (Summerhill, 2.0).