Davy Fitzgerald opened two barrels on RTÉ’s hurling pundits’ criticism of the sweeper system after Wexford’s qualifier defeat earlier today, writes John Fogarty.
The Clare native staunchly defended the style of his and Waterford’s team, which has been condemned by Henry Shefflin and Michael Duignan in recent times.
Former Offaly player Duignan tweeted during the game: “Sweepers should be outlawed! Not the game I love. Coach players to tackle & to use their heads instead of using extra backs to compensate!”
Shefflin has also hit out at the style but Fitzgerald wasn’t having any of it: “Let me say this straight out, Michael Duignan and Henry have never managed a team at a high level. The people need to wake up so they do. If they want the same one or two teams to play hurling and be successful that's fine.
“Myself and Derek (McGrath) are trying to bring teams to the fore that haven't been to the fore in a long time and I'm very strong about this. It's great for the likes of Michael Duignan, he should have had an opinion on something recently and he didn't have it and he should have stood up. It's time now Michael Duignan stopped this messing.”
Fitzgerald would not say which matter Duignan “should have stood up” on but it is believed to be his analysis of Brian Cody’s exchange with a fourth official during Kilkenny’s qualifier defeat to Wexford.
He backed the game structures McGrath has implemented in Waterford. “The job Derek McGrath has done and the stick he has taken is totally unwarranted. What he has done for Waterford and bringing them back to the top is incredible and I am backing him 100%. You tell me that's a bad game of hurling, some of the scores? Short and long ball, every sort of ball or do we just play the long ball and hit it and that's it. I don't agree with that and I think they are totally out of order.”
The Clare native called on RTÉ to review their stable of pundits. “I think that RTÉ should go and have a look at themselves and get analysts who have been on the sideline and who know what the story is about and that's how I feel strongly about it. Easy, easy knock people. I'd like to see their track records when it comes to it, when it comes to the managing, because it's a lot different than playing I can promise you that.”