Davy Fitzgerald is minding his p’s and q’s as well as his f’s. After his colourful declaration about his indifference to winning the league, following Sunday’s win over Kilkenny, Fitzgerald was put over the hot coals by his mother, Nuala. “I got in trouble,” he smiles wryly. “My mother wasn’t happy (with my language).” Comments (saying he was ‘mad to win the league’) made by former Offaly forward Brian Carroll, on RTÉ Radio the night before, had irked Fitzgerald.
To counter that, he made the point that, in his third league campaign with Wexford, he had started more players than most counties with a mind for the summer. He’s never lost sight that Championship matters most. “Consistency and depth, like, if you look at the first two years, what you are trying to do is to make sure we can grow our confidence. How do we grow our confidence? You’ve to win every single game you play, starting with the Walsh Cup.
“So, that means you are putting out your best all the time and it’s very hard to give other lads that chance. I think, in Championship last year, I used 18-19 players. This year, I definitely think I have the possibility to use 23 or 24, which is a big difference.”
That’s not to say Fitzgerald doesn’t want to take scalps and his contemporaries want to so as well, regardless of the league reformat.
“Everyone is saying to me, ‘There was no relegation in 1A’. I was kind of looking at it. You might talk about Cork the last day (in their defeat to Tipperary), so I looked at Cork when they were being beaten on Sunday. I looked at (John) Meyler’s face and Fraggy, Kieran Murphy’s face — did they look like two lads that didn’t give a damn? They were absolutely fuming at what was going on. When we came across Tipp’ and (Liam) Sheedy on the sideline, I know how he was. I know how Cody was the last day. From my point of view, when I’m playing a match, I want to win the thing. I want to win it. But I think the league is great for trying out stuff.”
And Fitzgerald expects Micheál Donoghue will want victory badly in Salthill on Saturday, after the last-gasp loss to Waterford last weekend, and given the identity of the manager he’s opposing in the Allianz League quarter-final.
Donoghue always seems to get up for me; I don’t know what the story is. Every time he plays me, he’s like a lunatic.
"I was watching him on the sideline the last day and he wasn’t so bad when I was watching the tape back. “But he’s always managed to get right up for it. Maybe I haven’t been up for it enough when I’ve played him. Maybe I need to have a look at that, you know,” laughs the Sixmilebridge man.
“So, we’ll have to have a real think about that one. I think he’s done a great job with them. They’re a very hard-working team. They travel back a lot in numbers; they work very hard.” Fitzgerald felt Wexford were flat against Galway in last year’s Leinster SHC and no tactics can solve that.
“It’s like when I was asked a question the other day on the radio, I think it was John Mullane asked me, ‘Do you have a plan B or what’s the story’? We have more plans than anyone. You know, there are some days you go out and it wouldn’t matter how many plans you have, if you hit a flat day, that’s it, and I know it.
“In the two-and-a-half years, I think we have hit two or three flat days and I know whatever I do, or change it, wouldn’t make a difference.”
Set to marry his long-term partner, Sharon, later this year, Fitzgerald will assess his situation with Wexford following the Championship. The six-hour return commute remains a burden.
“I could tell you stories, even over the last week or two, but I’m not going to — it isn’t ideal for your health. It isn’t ideal, all that travelling. But I actually love what I do. And I had other opportunities at the end of last year, and nice opportunities to do other stuff, but it’s savage being out on the field, no matter what. Being on the sideline or being involved with a team, it’s great.”
Davy Fitzgerald was speaking at the launch of the 20th annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge. The two-day competition, in Concra Wood and Nuremore Golf, on August 9 and 10, sees GAA members represent their clubs on the golf course for All-Ireland glory. A charity event, the main recipient this year is seven-year-old Raharney hurler, Fionn McAnaney, who requires selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery in the US next year.