"It's probably their last throw of the kitchen sink at it" - Wexford gunning for a big show
It's hard to escape the sense that, five successful years on, this could be Davy Fitzgerald's last stand with Wexford.
Between the commute, the precedence, the narrative that, leading into this season, Fitzgerald's hell-bending motivation was to right the wrongs of 2020. If a happier ending was what brought him back then it all pointed to the fact that the kitchen sink was out for 2021 and that this was going to be it.
Now Fitzgerald might say otherwise and he might do otherwise too. When asked about his future as Wexford manager after that Leinster semi-final defeat to Kilkenny, let's not forget that the Clare-man pointed to Brian Cody's example and his longevity.
“I think you in the media sometimes put pressure on managers that if they are there for four or five years they should be going. I don’t know what’ll happen. Whatever feels right is the thing," the Sixmilebridge club-man says.
That said, if Wexford were to lose to Clare this Saturday in Semple Stadium you'd imagine the feeling would be that Davy has given his all and he's gotten the most out of this particular journey. Wexford were the topic of discussion on this Thursday's GAA Hour preview show for what promises to be a feast of a hurling weekend, and it was host Colm Parkinson who got the boys talking.
"A lot of people are in agreement that Wexford didn't recover from that heartbreaking loss to Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final. How are they to get over that heartbreaking extra-time loss to Kilkenny which was just two weeks ago?" asked Wooly.
"Nah. I don't buy into that at all," said Brian Carroll flatly. "They just ran out of legs in that game against Kilkenny. I can't see them being caught up in self-pity. I think they'll be super-determined and I think there's a huge kick in them. It's probably their last throw of the kitchen sink at it. They won't want to go out on that whimper like they did last year.
"Davy played a dangerous game, throwing them under the bus after the game against Galway," added Carroll.
"He was very lucky that Lee Chin, one of his co-captains backed him publicly, and maybe in the dressing room as well. We know plenty of teams have thrown managers out after statements like that. But it shows that the core of this Wexford team back Davy to the hilt, and I think they'll be all out for this on Saturday.
"It's all or nothing for this group of players. I think they're going to be mad up for it because of that and I think they'll do it," he added.
Paddy Stapleton, meanwhile, says that the energy, the manic intensity they brought to that Kilkenny game will spur them on this Saturday.
"I think that was the first time they played with the fervour, the enthusiasm, the adrenaline they had in 2019 so for me, if I was Davy Fitz, if I was a Wexford player, yes I'd be disappointed we lost that game but I'd also be like 'yes, we have that thing again.' What that thing actually is, it's hard to put words on it but it's just like 'we pulled our backsides less, we thought less, we were there on the breaks,' and we could have beaten Kilkenny, If I'm from Wexford, I'm buzzing. If we can muster that again, I'd be saying, we can beat this Clare team. The only issue I'd have, is do they have someone to mark Tony Kelly..."
It's a full-blown feast this weekend so for that reason, the Hurling Show is out early.@BrianCarroll13 and @pasaint on the job with @Woolberto 🏑
- Tipp & Limerick match-ups
- Wexford's last roll of the dice
- Dublin's threat
🎧 https://t.co/iUAMW4yham 🎧 pic.twitter.com/tlEKDFMLBz
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) July 15, 2021
As for the sideshow of the beef that exists between the managers, Stapleton feels that Fitzgerald and Lohan will be eager to leave that to one side to focus on the hurling.
"It has bubbled up over the last while but they've had their jousts, there's not much more they can do or say about each other so I do think this will be more about the hurling. They've had their jousts and this is knock-out now, so there's no real room for putting a foot wrong on the sideline.
"It's such a pity because any of us that grew up in the 90s admired the relationship they had as full back and goalie," added Carroll. It's such a pity to see it the way it is now, such a pity that they can't get over it and move on but as seems as if they're not going to do that."