DAVY FITZGERALD was talking about the commitment of his Waterford players at the team press night and had a ready-made example to hand.
“If I were a sub I wouldn’t be happy,” said Fitzgerald. “I’d want to be playing, and I’d probably be saying to the parents at home in the evening, ‘what are they at, I want to be playing’.
“The older lads want to play more than anything, but as a management team we want to pick who we think is on form. There’s no sentiment in this.
“I have probably as much respect for this man as anyone on the panel – he’s not starting but he’s giving it everything. He’s pure Waterford, through and through.”
The man in question was James Murray, but he played down the sacrifice involved.
“It’s not difficult,” said Murray. “You make a decision at the start of the year whether you’re going to go or not, and I had my mind made up to go back for the long haul, whether it was for the number six jersey or number 36.
“I love coming training, I’ve been here ten years and I’ve a lot of good friends. It’s no problem for me to come down for training and I’ve always trained well.
“Obviously not playing is disappointing, everyone wants to be playing, but the way the lads are going there isn’t really a place there for me at the moment. It’s a matter of keeping the head down and hoping something will go your way and you’ll get back in.”
For Murray the fact that training is enjoyable is the key.
“It would be very difficult to train three nights a week and mind yourself socially – to take care of your diet and all that – if you didn’t. It would become a massive burden if it wasn’t enjoyable.
“I’ve always enjoyed the training and the crack with the lads – and we’ve been quite successful, which always helps.
“But you keep going because you love it. You know you can’t do it forever, anyway, so maybe I’m guilty of trying to get as much as I can out of it.”
Are those sacrifices easier or harder to make the older you get?
“Maybe I’m at it so long now that my lifestyle’s just adapted to it – when I retire I might become a chocoholic.
“At this point I know what I can eat, what I can’t. In your mid-twenties you might miss the social weekends, but as a married man that’s changed anyway. I’m more settled.
“I don’t mind the burden. It’s difficult not to be playing but you have to take the rough with the smooth, and it’s all about Waterford, about getting the best out of the team.”
With that in mind, is it difficult to be positive in the dressing-room? Dissatisfaction can be contagious in a panel, after all.
“You’ve got to be focused and ensure that if you’re not on the team that at least you’re playing well,” said Murray.
As part of that focus the subs need to pay close attention to the game in front of them. “You have to stay tuned in – in preparing for the game you’d have gotten all the information the management would give the starters anyway, so everyone is prepared the same way.
“What you’d find if you look at the subs is that everyone is focused – nobody’s got their Ipod on, they’re all tuned in and ready to go if they get the call.”
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