WATERFORD manager Davy Fitzgerald is not looking ahead to the All-Ireland series, insisting he is totally focused on this weekend’s Munster final clash with Cork.
“A Munster final is special, I thought so as a player and I still do as a manager,’’ he said.
“For us it’s the most important game of the year. We’re not thinking of the past, or looking beyond it – it’s everything to us. I rate this competition so highly it’s unreal.”
And the opposition?
“I don’t mind who we’re playing. For us it’s a game we want to win.
“We know we’re up against a very experienced Cork side – and a very hungry Cork side. Everyone saw how hungry they were against Tipperary. You could see it in their tackling, in their workrate – those were phenomenal.
“I think their conditioning is better than I’ve seen it in years and that goes to their new conditioning guy. I think he’s done a phenomenal job and their fitness is absolutely first class.
“We’re going to have to match that but we know we’re in a right dinger of a game. We’re not bad ourselves, but I’ve noticed how much Cork have improved this year. We’re looking forward to meeting that, to meeting a serious side.”
Fitzgerald paid tribute to the quality Cork possess.
“Before Cork played Tipperary I mentioned two players I had faith in, Sean Óg and Aisake O hAilpin.
“A lot of people were giving them stick but I said that they were serous players, and they are. Ronan Curran is an unreal centre-back, while John Gardiner created so much for Aisake it was unreal.
“Their two corner-backs are very tight, brilliant coming to the ball, I trained Eoin Cadogan in LIT, while they have danger men up front as well.
“To be Munster champions you have to beat great teams and we’re looking forward to that challenge.”
Asked if a Munster championship was Waterford’s number-one target, Fitzgerald said the focus was on winning games, pure and simple.
“When I came to Waterford I was told the team was gone and wouldn’t be seen for 10 years. There’s so much rubbish talked . . .
“I don’t buy into that stuff, ‘you’re going to win that, you’re going to win this’. You have matches to win. I’m not interested in anything else.
“Cork are in front of us and we have to deal with them.
“If there’s a cup to be lifted afterwards, great, but we’re just thinking of winning this game. In our competitive games this year we haven’t done too bad. We haven’t lost too many.
“If you win enough games you’ll pick up some silverware. We’ve won a bit this year and we want to win more.”
Fitzgerald dismissed talk of favourites when it comes to Sunday.
“Everyone considers Cork favourites, probably, but if we didn’t feel we could win would there be any point in going out? I could talk rubbish, but we have to believe that we have a chance and that we can win.
“Cork are favourites after beating Tipperary, but what does that mean? Will Cork take any notice of that? Will we? I don’t know.
“The public can decide that – if they say Cork are favourites and the bookies say the same, fine. We think it’s a two-horse race. We’ll give it our best shot.”
Fitzgerald admitted that Waterford have some injury worries – “we’ll keep that in-house,” – but stressed that he and his management team wouldn’t be using that as an excuse.
“We had a player the last day who was injured and who played; not many people would have played with his injury, yet nobody heard a word about it.
“That’s the way the team is. We have a strong panel, we want to use it, and if we’re down one or two, so be it.
“We’re trying to do the best for Waterford, and not be influenced by anyone.”
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