2023 Season Review: Wexford

Reece Webb clears under pressure from a Bray Wanderers attack

Reece Webb clears under pressure from a Bray Wanderers attack Credit: Paul Dolan (ETPhotos)

Team: Wexford.

Head Coach:James Keddy.

Top Scorer: Aaron Dobbs (14).

Stadium: Ferrycarrig Park.

Highest Attendance: 1921 (v Waterford, February 17)

Lowest Attendance: 434 (v Longford Town, May 19)

Star Player: Aaron Dobbs

Scoring 14 goals for Wexford this term, Aaron Dobbs showed exactly why he is their main marksman.

From the county, the former Longford Town and Shelbourne striker often bailed out Wexford with some key goals throughout the season.

And few were as important as his late winner against Cobh Ramblers in June when he scored an 86th minute winner against Ramblers at Ferrycarig Park.

He also scored against his former club Longford to all but seal Wexford’s place in the top-five with a 2-0 win against the Red and Black in September.

Known for his physical strength, the striker was often Wexford’s difference maker - and their fans will be hoping he will stay on for 2024 to keep hold of that tag for the club.

Best Young Player: Darragh Levingston

The lesser known of the two Levingston’s on the Wexford side this season, Darragh often upstaged former Bohemians man Conor with a number of big displays in midfield.

Once of Bray Wanderers, the 21-year-old played 34 times for Keddy’s charges and scored five goals for them.

And frequently, his goals were often highlight-reel worthy. 

The Gorey man netted a cracker in the FAI Cup win over St Patrick’s CY which started a mini goal-glut for the player.

And impressively, he often found himself in the right places at the right times to score at the edge of the penalty area. 

If he can keep that up there is nothing to suggest that so-called bigger clubs won’t be looking at his progress.

The future is bright for Levingston.

Best New Signing: Ethan Boyle

In terms of impact alone, Ethan Boyle showed exactly why there was a clamour among Wexford fans for him to line out for his hometown side in the League of Ireland this term.

After a number of seasons with Finn Harps, the ex-Shamrock Rovers man was a near ever-present in the Wexford backline - and was the glue that kept their young defence together.

Named as club captain as well, he made 33 appearances for the club, while also scoring twice.

And the accolades followed, with Boyle being named in the First Division’s team of the year by a select group of pundits.

Not bad at all.

What we thought they would do:

The extratime.com team predicted a fourth placed league finish for the Slaneysiders this season after an impressive list of signings made the move to Ferrycarrig Park.

What they actually did:

And they achieved exactly that with a brilliant league campaign - coinciding with their first appearance in a play-off. 

James Keddy’s side were the form side heading into the final few weeks of the season and could even afford to rest a few bodies before their play-off against Cobh Ramblers at the end of October.

However, they endured a patchy start to the year with newly-appointed boss Keddy under pressure early in his first job as a senior League of Ireland manager.

But they came through that difficult period to establish themselves as the form team with 10 wins in their last 14 games of the season.

And while they missed out on a place in the play-off final against Waterford after losing to Cobh in a thrilling two-legged tie, they can be very happy with their showing this season.

The Slaneysiders also performed well in the FAI Cup, reaching the quarter-final before bowing out to semi-finalists Cork City.

Wexford even led that tie for a long period before City saw them off. Keddy’s side defeated Avondale United and St Patrick’s CY in the previous rounds of the competition.

What they need to improve on for next year:

Not too much.

As far as 2023 went for Wexford, they can have very few complaints.

Granted, they did endure a slow start but they eventually came through their rut before proving their worth.

And the impact of several young loan signings such as Luke Browne, Owen Mason and Eoin Kenny certainly aided their cause.

But it was not just them who impressed either, the aforementioned Dobbs was a key man for them as was Darragh Levingston and Ethan Boyle - both of whom were mentioned already.

James Crawford - son of Ireland under-21 boss Jim - was also impressive alongside Reece Webb at the back.

Wexford also improved in all areas of their metrics on the pitch this season, picking up 53 points this season - up from 41 in 2022.

They also scored more goals with 49 being netted compared to 45 the previous year. 

However, they did concede one goal more than the year before, 49 compared to 48 under ex-boss Ian Ryan.

But if Wexford can keep the core of their 2023 side together and add a few more players who possess significant quality for 2024, they will be on the right track.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and there does not seem to be much broken with Wexford..