"I’d have massive respect for him as a person, but I was very disappointed in that"
Something didn’t click for the Wexford hurlers in 2020 and manager Davy Fitzgerald reckons he’s discovered what it was.
Lock-downs, thinking time and a great deal of analysis later, Davy has found what he’s been looking for.
“I’m pretty certain I have the reason we didn’t perform,” he says in an interview with Colm Parkinson on Thursday’s GAA Hour Show.
Let’s rewind to mid-summer for a second. Wexford were Walsh Cup champions, they’d won four out of five games in the league and when it was announced that they were planning to run off their club hurling championship before any other county, everything looked to be running smoothly.
But suddenly, it was championship season, suddenly they were slowest out of the traps. Looked sluggish, off the pace and a shadow of their 2019 peak. Henry Shefflin deemed that they looked like a team who'd been overcoached.
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) November 15, 2020
“They’ve been very poor,” added Henry on The Sunday Game “They’ve been training the most, but they looked like a team who had been training too hard, who had been over-coached.”
Fitzgerald, needless to say, doesn’t agree with Henry’s analysis. The Clare-man counters that while the Wexford hurling championship did finish in good time, the football, which all bar one of his squad was involved in, was only just beginning.
“What I didn’t take into account was that every single guy bar one on our panel plays football. So they were training three nights a week with the football after the hurling."
“I’m not a person who believes in overload. I might overload in pre-season for two or three weeks but that’s it. I believe in freshness and wanting to get out there to play and enjoy your game.”
“You were getting them, but you didn’t realise how much they were actually doing," Davy says of the Wexford players leading up to their losses against Galway and Clare.
We're gone hurling mad today 🏑
Two icons of the 90s Johnny Pilkington and Davy Fitzgerald join us for two good-humoured chats 👊
Do not fear football followers, Conor and Wooly haven't forgotten about the big ball 🏐
🎧Listen in 🎧https://t.co/EG7Iv2pAFA pic.twitter.com/Mt9GJ4Sci5
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) February 4, 2021
"Then when they got to semi-finals and finals, they couldn’t train with you. But listen, I totally understand it. I don’t blame clubs, even though I was trying to get the best for my side, but no way was I going to take the clubs on.”
“I was probably taken aback a bit by Henry, he didn’t do his homework," added Fitzgerald.
"And when you’re making comments, I think it’s very important that you do your homework. I don’t think he had a clue what he was talking about and I’d have massive respect for him as a person, but I was very disappointed in that. They weren’t overcoached, that’s for definite. I didn’t get enough of what I wanted to do with them done but I tried to understand the club scene as much as I could. Them Wexford lads are a great bunch of lads and they’ll try and keep everyone happy, they won’t let down their clubs either and that’s very important…we were poor and that was it. It is what is and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Elsewhere, Davy discussed the respect he has for the Clare players who came up to shake his hand after they had beaten Wexford in the 2020 championship.
“I’ve never said a bad word about the Clare players and I wouldn’t. We had a lot of good times. People wanted to make up x, y and z…would I keep every player happy – not a hope but that’s not going to happen anywhere in management. I got a few messages from them afterwards and even the way they came up afterwards, I thought it was a really nice touch and I really appreciate it. I have nothing but respect for those guys, and I messaged them afterwards wishing them best of luck in the next round and I really meant it, I’m a Clare man at the end of the day and I really hope them guys can back to winning stuff under Brian Lohan.