Wexford Youths boss Elmes: 'I'm happy with how we've started. We're putting points on the board, that's the main thing and we're gaining momentum'

Thu, Sep 10 2020

Elmes, now in his third season in charge, won the league title in his first year as manager. Credit: Steve Alfred (ETPhotos)

Tom Elmes celebrated his birthday last weekend by watching his Wexford Youths team beat last year’s FAI Cup opponents Peamount 3-0 in Ferrycarrig Park.

The 35-year old has had a successful time so far in the sunny south east. Now in his third season at the club, he has already picked up one WNL title, two FAI Cups and a league cup.

Having fallen behind in the league last season, reclaiming a WNL title is a priority for Elmes.

His squad this season reflects a positive blend of experience and youth, despite losing star striker Rianna Jarrett to Women’s Super League side Brighton & Hove Albion at the end of last year.

“I think we fell guilty of relying on her an awful lot,” Elmes admitted when speaking to extratime.com.

“If anything has shown this year, it’s that players have had to step up and really start putting in bigger performances.

“If you look back at the weekend against Peamount, that’s what was evident. The team, the attitude of the players, how collectively we came together and put in a performance, I thought was excellent.

"I’m happy with how we’ve started. We’re putting points on the board, that’s the main thing and we’re gaining momentum, which is good.”

Elmes’ reliance on youth has been crucial so far this year. With Aoife Slattery and Trina Duggan injured and Sinéad Taylor unavailable due to service in the defence forces, Wexford have been encouraged to concentrate on developing some of their younger players.

“I think it’s important during a game when you look behind you and look at the bench, it’s nice to be able to see that there’s options there.

"Some of the under-17 that have progressed, Maeve Williams, Kira Bates Crosbie, Breda Cushen, they’re good players and they’re players that we wanted to bring into the squad. 

"Kira’s got a couple of appearances this year and she’s getting better and better with every training session which is really good to see.”

Aoibheann Clancy made her first start for Wexford Youths against Peamount on Saturday. Playing alongside Edel Kennedy in midfield Elmes said she was “one of the stand out performances."

He noted how bringing her up to speed with the tempo of the game has been something they have been working on since she joined from Limerick earlier in the year.

“She came in with us at the beginning of the first pre-season and showed signs of what she’s capable of, but one thing we knew straight away was going to be an issue for her would be that physical contact.

"She’s a strong player, but there’s a difference between being strong and being aggressive.

“That’s something she’s worked on and we’ve spoken to her about and you could see it in the game, she wasn’t afraid to put her body in there, she wasn’t afraid to go and press.

"You see her going into challenges with Eleanor Ryan-Doyle and Karen Duggan, established National League players, international players, and she wasn’t one bit afraid and it was really positive to see.”

Ellen Molloy has perhaps been the stand out player in the WNL so far this season. With four goals in four games, she recently earned a call up to Vera Pauw’s Irish side to face Germany in the upcoming European qualifier in Germany at the age of 16.

“I think she’s been brilliant since she’s come up, we knew what she was capable of two years ago. She came in at 14 and was training away one or two nights of the week with us and we knew then she was going to progress into the squad.

"We didn’t know it was going to be such a fast progression but she showed she was capable.

“My only concern now is that she doesn’t get overwhelmed with the whole thing. She’s got great support with the family which is fantastic and as a club we’re going to make sure that nobody gets carried away.

"She’s doing well at the minute and she’s done well because she’s doing what she’s doing, she doesn’t have to change anything. All she has to do is keep working hard, keep the attitude she has and things will continue to develop for her.

“I think the call up is deserved, it’s fantastic for her. And if anything, if it’s just a good experience then that’s a positive for her as well.”

For Elmes, “competitiveness has been key” and that has been reflected in the culture he has created at Wexford Youths. While players have come and gone in his couple of years at the club, some players have only reaffirmed their commitment.

“There’s always been that family environment here but we try to ask a little bit more of the players and what they do in their own time, because we don’t get enough contact. So the pressure is on them that little bit more and some just don’t respond to that.

“We’ve constantly been turning players around but we’re bringing players in and the ones that stick around are the ones that fit the culture. Their work ethic is right and they’ve got the right attitude to be a Youths player.”

Three players that have stuck around and given considerable service to Wexford Youths are Kylie Murphy, Edel Kennedy and Nicola Sinnott.

While their experience is crucial in a team of young players, Elmes notes how that is only the case because of how well they keep up their fitness.

“Edel works in that PT area. She looks after herself really well. Kylie and Nic in the last couple of years have seen the importance of how they look after themselves nutrition-wise, how they look after themselves strength and conditioning-wise, what they do away from the training pitch, and I think it’s paying off in their performances, their longevity in the game.”

Elmes felt their performances against Peamount showed the extent of their fitness.

“Kylie did not stop running in that match. Runs from deep, getting past Ash [Frawley], and was excellent and Nicky was kept busy all game and even got on the scoresheet.

“We were laughing, we had Ellen [Molloy] and Aoibheann [Clancy] go down with cramp, the two future stars you might put it are going down with cramp, and Edel is playing alongside Aoibheann in the same game.

“I think we’ll continue to see them as long as they want to play, I think they’ll play just because of how good they are and how seriously they take themselves.”

Given results so far and the shorter nature of the WNL season this year, not dropping points is vital for those aiming for the title. Even after only four games, Elmes knows how open the league is this season.

“Last year, you saw Peamount went the year without losing. The previous year to that we won the league without losing. So the league in the past has not been very forgiving of teams that have dropped points.

"This year seems to be a little bit different. Obviously everyone’s dropped points already. You need to maintain being competitive.

"You don’t want to lose points, if you take a point away out of a tough fixture that’s obviously a positive. We’d have loved to have taken a point away from the Shels game, it would have been great for us, but on the day it just didn’t happen that way.”

Wexford Youths continue their WNL campaign in Limerick on Sunday, taking on Treaty United in a 2pm kick off.