Wexford football manager Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney has colourfully suggested hurling counterpart Davy Fitzgerald will view his high-profile suspension as a “dream come true”.
Ex-Monaghan and Meath boss McEnaney was appointed in Wexford shortly after Fitzgerald stepped into the hurling hot-seat and both managers have since secured promotions in their respective Allianz League campaigns.
Things turned sour for Fitzgerald, however, when he was banned for eight weeks for entering the field of play during their league semi-final defeat to Tipperary and engaging with Niall O’Meara and Jason Forde.
Fitzgerald won’t be allowed on the sideline for their opening Leinster championship game and an anticipated glamour provincial semi-final clash with Kilkenny on June 10.
McEnaney isn’t convinced that it is a negative though and said that Fitzgerald, with whom he is in regular contact, certainly doesn’t need anyone to feel sorry for him.
“Davy would be the last man in Ireland that you could feel sorry for, Davy is well able to handle anything that’s coming to him,” said McEnaney at the launch of the Leinster championships. “I can tell you, behind all the flak he’s getting, he is absolutely loving it. It’s a dream come true for him.
“He’s going to have to work up in the stand. Do you think that will affect Wexford? No way, it will galvanise them. This will galvanise them. Listen, you fellas (media) know Davy better than I do, you know that this will galvanise Davy’s dressing room. No matter how big the battle is, he’s absolutely loving it.”
McEnaney praised the job Fitzgerald has done in his short stint so far with Wexford, guiding them to top flight league hurling for the first time since 2011.
“I meet him every week, we train together normally on a Tuesday night. He’s a great character. He’s been great for Wexford hurling, he’s raised the whole profile. He got them promoted basically after two games, his first two games. I also think with the hurlers going well, it’s helped the footballers. There’s a certain level of competition there that one set of players doesn’t want to see the other set of players streaking off ahead of them.”
Kilkenny boss Brian Cody is of the same opinion that the Wexford team won’t be adversely affected by Fitzgerald not being on the sideline for that likely Championship showdown in June.
“I don’t think so because he’s going to make sure it doesn’t influence them,” said Cody. “He’ll deal with the situation he finds himself in and he will have everything ready, he’ll have the team ready. I’ve been on the line a long time and I never feel that I am in complete control of what happens on the field because it’s very difficult to communicate and everything else anyway.
“I like being on the line, I absolutely do. Some people say you are better off up in the stand also, but I’d rather be on the line any day of the week. But if I weren’t on the line, would it be a huge difference for the players?
“I don’t think so because it’s not what you do on the day on the sideline that decides the outcome, it’s what you do in your preparation.”
Cody, who has guided Kilkenny to 11 All-Ireland titles in his 18 years as manager, declined to comment on the Fitzgerald suspension specifically.
“The rules are the rules, the rules are there,” said Cody, before defending the former Clare and Waterford manager. “I’m not answering that question at all because Davy has done a terrific job with Wexford, as he has done everywhere he has been. He’s an outstanding manager.
“People talk about the passion he brings, but he brings great hurling knowledge as well. He brings everything. He brings all the traits that are needed to a team and Wexford have proven that right throughout the league.
“They beat Limerick and Galway in the first two games of Division 1B and straight away in their own heads they’re thinking: ‘Now we have a real chance for the first time in a number of years of being promoted’.
“They achieved promotion, beat us in a quarter-final and were really, really competitive for 60 minutes against Tipperary after a terrible start for them.
“So that’s the Davy Fitz I’m thinking about and the Davy Fitz that is going to be preparing Wexford. All of the other things are out of my control and out of my thinking as well. If it is Wexford we are playing, Davy is the manager and we know that he is going to have the team primed and ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Cody played down reports of a serious heel injury for Pádraig Walsh who has filled the troublesome full-back position in the league.
“We’d be hoping that Pádraig will be fine in a couple of weeks, to be honest about it,” said Cody.
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