Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley has suggested that Davy Fitzgerald may view his eight-week suspension as a ‘blessing in disguise’ come the championship.
The Wexford manager has been hit with the proposed ban for encroaching onto the field of play during last weekend’s Allianz League semi-final against Tipperary.
Fitzgerald entered the playing area to remonstrate with referee Diarmuid Kirwan, but ended up shouldering Tipp’s Niall O’Meara and jostling with Jason Forde and was sanctioned under Rule 7.2(c) IIa.
Wexford are expected to seek a Central Hearings Committee meeting to plead their case, with a source stating that Fitzgerald and county officials would be meeting “inside 24 hours”.
Fitzgerald’s ban relates to all coaching duties and he will be barred from the sideline for Wexford’s Leinster championship opener against a round robin side on May 27/28.
Presuming the Division 1B winners emerge from that game, they will play Kilkenny on June 10 and Fitzgerald will remain banned, as the suspension doesn’t end until midnight.
It’s understood that Tipperary’s Forde has received a proposed two-match ban for his part in the altercation, though county officials would only state that he is “available for selection” for Sunday’s league final.
Versatile Cats midfielder Buckley believes that, in the case of Fitzgerald, he will use the suspension saga to whip up a useful siege mentality in the camp ahead of a likely championship showdown with Kilkenny.
“This could be a blessing in disguise for him, in a way,” said Buckley.
“It depends what way he uses it. No doubt Davy, as well as the whole Wexford management, will work to get the best out of the situation.
"I couldn’t see it upsetting them that much. It could be the very thing that brings the whole thing together for them.”
Fitzgerald said in various interviews after Sunday’s defeat to Tipperary that he entered the pitch partly to motivate his players.
The former All-Ireland winning Clare manager and Munster championship winner with Waterford has used similar shows of emotion on the sideline to generate a response from players over the years.
Buckley isn’t convinced it necessarily matters if the former All-Ireland winning manager is close to the field of play.
“I think with the energy he brings to it, he could stand on the far side of the county and he’d still be able to run the show for them,” said the 24-year-old.
“I couldn’t see it affecting him too much, no matter what happens. Davy Fitz will still be the Wexford manager.”
Former Wexford chairman Diarmuid Devereux, who was in place when Fitzgerald was appointed last October, has hit out at the severity of the ban which, stops the Clare guru from coaching the team.
He also took umbrage at commentary surrounding the ban, with former Offaly player Daithi Regan claiming Fitzgerald was guilty of “imbecilic, childish carry-on, that was self-indulgent”.
“Davy Fitzgerald has admitted his mistake and, on the basis he admitted his breach of rule, the penalty should be revisited and leniency and mercy should be shown to the man,” said Devereux.
“Nastiness in GAA punditry is now becoming the norm and [it] is dragging our association down to the ground, and the treatment of Davy Fitzgerald by some pundits and the appeals of some of these people to have his career destroyed is shocking in the extreme.”
Wexford County Board secretary Margaret Doyle says a decision on requesting a hearing to overturn the ban, will be taken in the coming days: “We are where we are and we’ve made no decisions on what we’ll do next.
"We do have a couple of days to decide. We will meet, discuss it, and then make a decision. You don’t appeal this suspension, you request a hearing.”
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