While Fitzgerald was unable to communicate directly with his players during a facile Leinster SHC quarter-final victory over Laois, he was mic’d up for filming purposes at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise.
Whenever it airs, the show will make for fascinating viewing. Suspended he may be, but Fitzgerald remains box office.
Romping home with 14 points to spare, Wexford have now ensured a sell-out crowd will be present on June 10, when Kilkenny come to town for a provincial semi-final.
Fitzgerald will serve the final hours of his eight-week ban that night but if Wexford continue on their upward curve, he could be back patrolling the touchline for a Leinster final with Galway or Offaly on July 2 at Croke Park.
He declined media interviews after the game. It seems that the all-encompassing edict from Croke Park disciplinary chiefs covers post-match activities too.
On the field, Wexford’s players got the job done, and selector JJ Doyle explained: “Myself and Pauric (Fanning) were with Davy for the game and we got messages down to the line when we needed to.
“We put a lot of planning into it, but it is very much given over to the lads on the field, it is up to them. They know the way we play, they know what we are looking for.
“And a lot of lads have been there for a few years, they take ownership and the leadership roles on themselves and they are very good lads.”
While admitting the situation is “not ideal”, Doyle acknowledged this was a useful test run ahead of the clash with Kilkenny at Innovate Wexford Park.
And he nodded: “We know how it is going to work and it will be the same again for the Kilkenny game. People on the outside think it is a bigger deal than it is for us.
“We have been together now since November, played a lot of games, we all know our roles.”
The day couldn’t have gone much better for Wexford. They won pulling up, as Laois lost Charles Dwyer (two yellows) and Willie Dunphy (straight red) in the second half, finishing the game with 13 men.
Liam Óg McGovern, Andrew Shore and Shane Tomkins, three players who suffered cruciate knee ligament injuries last year, were fit enough to be named on the Wexford bench, and highly-rated attacker McGovern came on for the final five minutes plus stoppage time.
An infection that required hospital treatment ruled goalkeeper Mark Fanning out but his deputy, Oliver O’Leary, performed capably.
Willie Devereux, Damien Reck and Podge Doran were other injury absentees but Wexford coped just fine.
They were 1-11 to 0-9 clear at half-time, having recovered from an early 0-3 to 0-0 deficit.
Harry Kehoe netted in the sixth minute, capitalising from an acute angle when Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland, otherwise impressive, opted to come for a ball that he misjudged.
The second half saw Wexford outscore Laois by 2-14 to 1-8, as Jack Guiney made a huge impact off the bench.
Guiney’s physical presence caused Laois endless problems and after being involved in the opening two scores of the second half, he assisted Aidan Nolan’s 43rd-minute goal.
Guiney also had a goal of his own chalked off, before his low 52nd-minute drive found the back of the net and stood.
Guiney also forced Rowland into a good save seven minutes from the end, after Patrick Purcell had scored a consolation goal in the 55th minute for Laois.
On the day, Wexford were too powerful for Laois, and as Shaun Murphy provided numerous examples of how the sweeper system should be played, Simon Donohoe and Matthew O’Hanlon also shone at the back.
In the first half, particularly, Laois struggled to come to terms with the Wexford set-up, as poor decision-making hampered their progress, while too much aimless ball was mopped up comfortably.
Laois boss Eamonn Kelly also took up a spot in the stand but he was on the touchline before half-time.
“We were in trouble with the microphones,” he said. “We couldn’t get down word to the line. We needed to close the gap between the full-forward line and half-forward line.
“The damage was done by that stage, Wexford had their plan, they went for goals straight away to try and kill us off. We’re disappointed with the scoreline, we certainly have a bit of learning to take out of it and hopefully we’ll respond.
“We’re still in the qualifiers and we’ve lots of hurling to do in this thing yet.”
C McDonald (0-9, 4 frees, 1 65); H Kehoe (1-2); P Morris (0-5); A Nolan (1-1); J Guiney (1-0); L Chin (0-3, 1 free); J O’Connor (0-2); S Murphy, D O’Keeffe & D Redmond (0-1 each).
R King (0-7, 5 frees); P Purcell (1-1); A Dunphy (0-2); C Collier, C Dwyer, S Downey, J Lennon, W Dunphy, S Maher & C Taylor (0-1 each).
O O’Leary; S Donohoe, L Ryan, J Breen; E Martin, M O’Hanlon, D O’Keeffe; A Nolan, J O’Connor; P Morris, L Chin, D Redmond; C McDonald, H Kehoe, S Murphy.
J Guiney for Redmond (h.t.), B Carton for O’Connor (38), E Moore for Breen (43), D Dunne for Nolan (52), L Óg McGovern for Morris (65).
E Rowland; L Cleere, L Bergin, D Palmer; M Whelan, C Dwyer, C Collier; R King, P Purcell; S Downey, S Maher, J Kelly; J Lennon, N Foyle, W Dunphy.
C Taylor for Kelly (h.t), A Dunphy for Cleere (43), M Kavanagh for Lennon (49), A Corby for Downey (58).
C McAllister (Cork)
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