Anthony Daly can see both sides of row between former teammate and fellow pundits

Anthony Daly has defended his former teammate Davy Fitzgerald’s use of the sweeper system, though he doesn’t agree with the Wexford manager’s attack on Daly’s fellow RTÉ pundits Michael Duignan and Henry Shefflin, writes Larry Ryan.

After Wexford’s defeat by Waterford on Sunday, Fitzgerald hit out at Duignan and Shefflin, who have been critical of the sweeper tactic, with Duignan saying it should be banned.

“Michael Duignan and Henry have never managed any team at a high level. The people need to wake up, so they do,” Fitzgerald said.

Speaking on the Irish Examiner PaperTalk podcast, Daly said: “I wouldn’t make any apologies to anybody about what system I wanted to play or didn’t want to play. At the same time, I wouldn’t feel the need to have a go at some pundit who didn’t like it either.

“I see both sides of it. It’s not the most beautiful thing in the world to watch.

“But I understand where Davy is coming from. You have to crawl before you can walk. Wexford weren’t competing over the last while. They are competing this year. They are back in Division 1A next year and were in a Leinster final, brought 60,000 there for the first time.

“Do we want two or three teams winning the whole time, or do we want a change?

“And if you’re challenged to come up with a change, you must try and battle for your team. You’re not thinking about how the game should be played and how people should love it at home. Your challenge is to get results for the county and that’s what Derek McGrath and Davy are doing.”

Daly believes there is still a strong element in the GAA which is reluctant to embrace change and he doesn’t subscribe to the theory that you can’t win an All-Ireland playing a sweeper system.

“We are traditional and we don’t like to see things tampered with. Everyone is giving out about the black card in football. Hankering for old ways.

“Clare played a sweeper at times in 2013. People seem to have amnesia when you win and what system you played.

“It was unreal hurling to watch. Why would you throw away a system that worked. But other teams evolved and learned to cope with Clare.”

Daly believes Cork should be extremely wary of Wexford’s conquerors Waterford in the All-Ireland semi-final, despite having already beaten Derek McGrath’s side in the Munster semi-final. Though he accepts Waterford’s chances will be significantly dented if they can’t overturn Tadhg de Búrca’s red card, picked up in Sunday’s quarter-final.

“That will have a huge bearing on it, because he’s so important to how they play.

“But if you’ve beaten a team earlier in the year, it’s very hard to take them on again. They’ll have learned a lot and they’ll be doubly-determined to get back at you.

“People might foolishly think Cork have the upper hand or a psychological advantage.

“You have not, to be honest. It was a nightmare in’ 97 having to face Tipperary again having beaten them in Munster.”

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