Waterford manager Davy Fitzgerald has criticised Central Council’s decision last weekend to reject the return of the maor foirne on a limited basis.
Ahead of the start of his second spell in charge of the Déise against Dublin this Sunday, proposals had been tabled to allow a selector onto the field on a restricted scale. However, delegates voted against the move.
Fitzgerald feels it was a missed opportunity and doesn’t reflect managements’ need to speak to players during games.
“In my last year with Wexford, the maor foirne was gone. I saw there was an attempt to bring it back and I can’t understand how it didn’t come back. You can’t get messages onto the field. People are trying different ways to get messages on and surely there should have been a bit of a compromise.
“You have to make changes, like. You can’t just let the game slip by. I’m a bit disappointed people didn’t read that situation. People over teams would understand what I’m saying. You need to make changes at different times or different moves and it’s very hard for a manager to do it from the sideline. It’s nearly impossible.
“You want to get the far corner-back or corner-forward to move – how are you meant to do it? It just doesn’t make sense. I was very disappointed there wasn’t a bit of common sense used. Maybe some people just didn’t understand what it’s like on the sideline. It might look great that nobody is running onto the field but what do you do if you want to switch things up?”
Fitzgerald would like to see match officials use their discretion to allow management teams to communicate with their team.
“Hopefully, referees will have a bit of sympathy if we want to make changes and are moving up and down the sideline just to make sure that message is getting into the players.” For the first time in four years, Fraher Field hosts a Waterford Division 1 home game this weekend and Fitzgerald is glad they will be able to play a couple of league fixtures there as Walsh Park undergoes reconstruction.
“It’s great to have home games in the league. The boys are used to play a lot of club games in Fraher Field. You want to do well in front of your supporters.”
As that work continues at the Waterford city venue into the second quarter of the year, it was confirmed last week that FBD Semple Stadium will host the county’s two “home” Munster SHC matches against Limerick and Clare in April and May respectively.
“Thurles is Thurles,” says Fitzgerald.
“It’s an unbelievable pitch. You’d love to have your home games because having them there is a bit of an advantage to you but we’re going to a really good pitch in Thurles and we’ll certainly not be making any excuses.”
As Waterford begin the defence of their Division 1 title, Fitzgerald will be looking for performances and results. However, they will be without Conor Gleeson for the upcoming opener in Dungarvan while most if not all of Tadhg de Búrca, Martin Fitzgerald, Dessie Hutchinson, Austin Gleeson, Jack Prendergast, Patrick Curran and Colin Dunford will be on the bench.
Nevertheless, he can’t afford to take as indifferent an approach to the league as Limerick have done these past couple of seasons. “It’s a bit easier for Limerick to do that because they’ve won All-Irelands before that. You can’t copy Limerick because it’s not the same thing.
“Waterford won the league last year but we still have to do our best to win games. When you’re down players who have been playing championship hurling, there’s an opportunity for others to stake their claim. We want to strengthen our panel as much as we can while looking to pick up points.”
Fitzgerald also paid tribute to Pauric Mahony who confirmed his inter-county retirement on Monday night. The Ballygunner man made his senior debut under the Clare native in 2011.
“I knew he was a special talent from the moment he came on board. Like, his ability to read the play was incredible. Always able to get into the right places at the right time. He’s naturally skilful and such a smart player.
“I think he really wanted to make a go of it this year. At the start, he said to me he would consider it and that was nice to hear. I gave him every chance because I wanted him around, his knowledge, his experience. I really have serious time for him as a person and a player.”