Q&A: Wexford manager Damian Locke

23rd November 2023

We caught up with Wexford FC manager Damian Locke ahead of Friday night's Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup first round tie against Crumlin United at Ferrycarrig Park and got his views on the season so far as well as his hopes for the future. You're one of t

We caught up with Wexford FC manager Damian Locke ahead of Friday night's Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup first round tie against Crumlin United at Ferrycarrig Park and got his views on the season so far as well as his hopes for the future.

You're one of the youngest managers to ever take charge of a club in the SSE Airtricity League. Have you enjoyed it so far and has it been a steep learning curve?
Yes and it is something I am very proud of. I have put in a lot of commitment to various levels of the game in this country to get to where I am today. It sure has been a steep learning curve and, without going into detail, from speaking to other managers I've probably had to deal with more in one season than what some managers have to deal with in their careers.

I would be lying if I said I have taken it all in my stride and it's all been great but we are in the back end of the season in the only position not acceptable but with a really strong chance of improving on this position.

In the early part of the season, when the team were struggling for results, did you have to alter your footballing philosophy in any way to try to turn around your fortunes?
It has in many ways been a season of two halves which hasn't been ideal. I suppose when we talk about philosophy, being at the bottom of the table brings different challenges to weekly preparations as our opponents are more often than not a stronger team of individuals than we are and it is my job to make sure as a collective group every Friday night we are capable of delivering a game-plan to disrupt our opponents while also not taking away from our main strengths. That plan has almost changed weekly for us whether it's our formation or approach to the game, it has all seemed to have improved since the mid-season break.

Results and performances have steadily improved as the season has progressed. There seems to be a good camaraderie in the group. Is it difficult to maintain that team spirit with some players moving on in the transfer window as well as new faces coming in?
Even though it has been almost two separate groups either side of the transfer window there has never been a Monday training session that the coaching staff have had to give a morale boost, it really has been a credit to the group and I think we see that togetherness in every performance. For me, a team on the bottom of the table for the majority of the season and to only concede more than two goals in a game once this season says a lot about the effort left on that pitch by the lads every week.

With a Cup game against Crumlin United on Friday night, do you see it as a welcome distraction from the League and what would you like to get out of the competition?
No, we haven't looked at it as a distraction at all, we are welcoming each game as they come. The approach and preparation for Friday will be no different to any other as we welcome a formidable Leinster Senior League side to Ferrycarrig, they will be given all the respect they deserve. Obviously it would be fantastic to get a Cup run together as I don't think any club will enjoy free weekends at the back end of the season. From a personal point of view, I suppose just like every other manager in the country I am sure it is an ambition to lead your team out in the Aviva for the FAI Cup final, hopefully I will get there some day.

Obviously, Wexford FC are destined for another season in the First Division next term, and it will only get more difficult with the calibre of club that will be coming down from the top flight. What are your short term and long term goals with the club?
The next two to three seasons I'd imagine will be a rollercoaster for many clubs and no one knows what the affect will be on the Premier Division clubs getting relegated. Unfortunately we have witnessed first hand this season that the drop can turn your squad upside down and we have been very lucky that there has been a small core group of people in the background throughout the good and bad times over the last three seasons to steady the ship in our club which allows me to begin to prepare for the future.

It has been evident since the beginning of the season that we believe we are producing enough underage talent in the club to make the step up. Now it might take them two or three years to really flourish but that time is there for them once I believe they're the right type of person that I want in the changing room. With the three Premier sides coming down, for them young kids next season to be going playing in some of the best stadiums in the country is only going to make them better players, so I believe it is a very exciting project to be involved in and one I am looking forward to.