The sky is the limit for Wexford under Davy Fitzgerald, according to his former player and current Clare captain, Patrick O’Connor.
As Wexford put the final touches to preparations for Sunday’s Leinster final against Galway, O’Connor admits he hasn’t been surprised by how well they have performed since Fitzgerald took over, having stepped away from his native county.
“With Davy, anything is possible. If you were taking this exact date last year, you’d be thinking what is going to lie ahead and the winter was going to be an interesting winter. But it turned out to be, for both parties, a kind of a natural ending to the very successful time he had here and he’s expressed as much, that it was his call to go and he’s happy he did go.
“Wexford are reaping the benefits now because from what I can see down there, there’s a really rejuvenated manager, his energy is up and he looks well, and he obviously has a Wexford team responding to all of the enthusiasm he brings to it. We’re delighted to see that here.”
O’Connor was the closest thing to an ever-present starter under Fitzgerald and that loyalty is something he won’t forget. He was disappointed with criticism he received last year despite leading Clare to a Division 1 title.
“The relationship you have with your manager is never going to be pally-pally, it can’t be. And it’s based solely on your player-manager relationship. He played me any time I was fit so from that point of view, I had a very good relationship with Davy. Like any other player/manager, we mightn’t necessarily have talked five times a week or anything like that but no player/manager is like that, it can’t be like that.
“Within the group, we knew that it was clean and it was good, what we were doing, and it was done the right way, between player and manager. But the stick he took from outside, nobody wanted to see that because he’s an immensely passionate Clare man, first of all, and a hurling man second. The stick he took outside, we didn’t like watching that or hearing that.”
As far as it being a win-win situation for Wexford under Fitzgerald and Clare steeling themselves for a first Munster final in nine years, O’Connor remarked: “Looking at it like that, it does look like a win-win but if circumstances were different, it wouldn’t change anything. It finished well between players and management. He was happy to go and it was a natural ending, really.
“We all watched the Wexford team and chatting to the lads, we’d be delighted to see them (doing well)…as long as it remains in Leinster, if it goes outside that, it might be a bit different,” he smiled. “But we’re delighted to see him having success because we know how much he cares and how much he puts into it.
“It’s like anything — you put so much into something and you want to see results and satisfaction coming out of it. He’s certainly getting that in abundance so far.”
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