Davy Fitzgerald: Never go back? A load of bullshit 

If Davy Fitzgerald was looking for contraries to the rule that one should never go back, he wouldn’t have had to search too far for Liam Sheedy and Jack O’Connor
Davy Fitzgerald: Never go back? A load of bullshit 

GOING BACK: Davy Fitzgerald is pictured at the launch of Londis’ sponsorship of Ireland’s Fittest Family. Londis will sponsor RTÉ's hit TV show for a fourth year in a row, which returns to our screens on Sunday 2nd October for a tenth season.

If Davy Fitzgerald was looking for contraries to the rule that one should never go back, he wouldn’t have had to search too far for Liam Sheedy and Jack O’Connor.

As it turns out, he didn’t need the reassurances provided by the All-Ireland winning achievements of the former Tipperary manager in 2019 and current Kerry senior boss this past season. Returning to Waterford didn’t hold any concerns for him.

Never go back? Never a phrase in his lexicon. 

“I reckon that’s a load of bullshit. Who came up with that saying or what the story is I don’t know. I don’t buy it anyhow, that’s why I’m back.

“Jack O’Connor? Yep, there’s been numerous different occasions where people have gone back. And you’re kinda going back but you’re not really going back to the same bunch. There is hardly any of the bunch I worked with here.

“When I met Sean (O’Regan), the chairman first, and even before I chatted with the committee, it was very important to see our views and our alignments, see did we think the same. And we did. A lot of this team fit into my philosophies. Do I fit into theirs? We do."

Fitzgerald knows he’s not starting from scratch with a group that have reached an All-Ireland final and claimed a league title in the last three seasons. 

“Normally, I’d walk into a team and I’d have to start from square one. I don’t have to start from square one here which is great and I’m absolutely buzzing about it.” 

Of the last Waterford team he sent out in 2011, only Pauric Mahony remained in the outgoing panel. The 2013 All-Ireland SHC winning manager knows there are some former players “who would look back and think ‘that little shagger nearly ended my career’. It’s tough like, when you are coming to the end.” 

But he’s already enthused by the reaction he has received from speaking to players and that of the public in the county. 

“I’m under no illusions that there are a certain amount of people in Waterford will love me being back and there are a certain amount of people will think 'why go back'.

“All I’ll say to them is my record isn’t too bad normally with teams that are finding it hard to get over the line. If you really look back, I think I have a pretty decent cv between clubs, colleges, county, it’s not too bad. I’m very hungry. I think the way I see the game isn’t bad. I believe anything is possible.” 

Fitzgerald hopes to generate a support for the group that didn’t appear to be as evident last year in the wake of winning a Division 1 title.

“We want every Waterford person that’s there to come out and support and what I mean by support is whether we have good days or bad days don’t be getting on our back. I know after two or three years if I’m not up to the business then we’ll change and give someone else a chance, that’s no problem. But in order for us to have a chance, don’t cut us or the team after a few games or after a year, give us a chance."

Dare we suggest Waterford might not be going bald-headed to defend their league crown in 2023? 

“I would envisage using a lot of players but the nature of this beast is, any game he plays he wants to win,” says Fitzgerald. “Any game that is put in front of me I’ll probably want to win. But the ultimate goal is to try and be competitive in the championship.” 

Having an extra third week between the Division 1 final and what should be a crucial Munster opener against All-Ireland champions Limerick in Walsh Park in the middle of April might have changed Fitzgerald’s attitude. Neither would he mind the league starting a week earlier in January.

The 51-year-old is delighted with his management team of former Waterford midfielder Peter Queally - “a man that has got results with every club team he goes with” - and Tipperary legend Eoin Kelly who he worked with in Limerick IT.

Kelly took a couple of days to consider working outside his county before accepting Fitzgerald’s offer. 

“I said to him, ‘I know you love your county but this is different. I know you’ve played 15-plus years with them, you’ve helped out in the backroom team, you’ve coached, maybe try something different.’ 

“I’m a Clareman and some people will say, ‘Ah, he was with Wexford, Waterford’. I will always love my county. I played with them for 18 years, I managed them for five. I spent 23 years of my life playing or being involved with my county. Eoin Kelly has so much time with his county. Like, do they want us to sit at home and do nothing? Just put us on the shelf and do nothing? No. Eoin has something to offer.” 

*Davy Fitzgerald was launching Londis’ sponsorship of Ireland’s Fittest Family. Londis will sponsor RTÉ's hit TV show for a fourth year in a row, which returns this Sunday for a 10th season.

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