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'To cope with winning sometimes is difficult' - Fitzgerald defends Clare's record since All-Ireland win

Fitzgerald also spoke about the ever changing role of modern day goalkeepers.

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald at the launch of the 21st annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge.
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald at the launch of the 21st annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge.
Image: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

DAVY FITZGERALD SPOKE with the media last week at an event in Waterford Castle before the GAA’s blanket ban on all activities came into effect.

The Wexford boss covered topics such his thoughts around releasing his players back to their clubs in April, plus the benefits of warm-weather training camps.

Yesterday’s announcement by the GAA following a meeting with the government means Wexford may not train collectively for a couple of months, while a training camp to mainland Europe would be unwise given the growing coronavirus concerns.

The GPA’s Paul Flynn has urged county bosses to obey the suspension on collective training and games.

“I’m kind of saying to myself, you know what, when they’re in a different environment and they can do their own thing for the three or four weeks, it isn’t a bad idea,” Fitzgerald said of club month.

It will be interesting to see how counties such as Wexford, who put a great deal of importance on training blocks and peaking at the right time, will navigate the coronavirus situation.

Players will be given individual training programmes to maintain their aerobic conditioning and encouraged to keep practicing their ball skills on the field. It’s possible that some managers will encourage players to train in small pods of three or four.

Most gyms will be closed so squads will have to get creative in how they do strength work over the weeks and potentially months ahead.

There’s little doubt that Fitzgerald, like every other county manager, has spent the past couple of days plotting the best way to ensure Wexford keep their players safe while also ensuring the work they’ve done over the last few months doesn’t go to waste.

It’s unclear yet whether Wexford’s Division 1 quarter-final against Galway will even be played, but if the league isn’t voided then it’s a competition Fitzgerald wants to win.

“I think anything you win, like there are only four things we can win at the start of the year, Walsh Cup, National League, Leinster and All-Ireland, they are the four. So you’ve one ticked off, now we’re in this zone. To be honest, we’re not even thinking about the championship.

“We’re just thinking about getting through the league, our thing was to play as many players as we can and win as many games as possible. Somebody said to me that in the league they didn’t know if the teams do be trying, I’ve yet to stand on a sideline and see a team that wasn’t flat to the mat trying.”

He also admitted he’d love to be a modern day goalkeeper, given their growing influence in the game.

“With the stuff they’re doing now, yeah,” he said. “There’s different stuff happening there, it’s way different.

“We’ve been working on something for the last year and a half to two years – I love the opportunity to do different things. Love it. And we’ve worked very hard on it now. Does it always come off? No.

“Do we look silly at times? We do. But if you weigh it all up, we come out the better end, by doing things better than we maybe used to a few years ago.

“So how many times will the ball go dead in a game, for a goalie? At least between 30 and 40, in that bracket. So he has the ball in his hand 30 times at least, without the other general stuff. So that’s probably more than any other player.”

He could see hurling netminders following Niall Morgan’s example in football and becoming auxiliary outfield players.

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“It might happen. I seen Dublin do it last year in the last game against Galway, that right? The ball was on one side, everyone was gone back. The ball was hit the other side and they ended up getting it down the field, got a score out of it.

“Anything is possible.”

Fitzgerald also defending his former team Clare over criticism they’ve failed to deliver on their potential since their All-Ireland win in 2013.

“They won the league in ’16. I actually felt, like to cope with winning sometimes, you see Tipp in 2010, it took them a good while to get back. Galway have done one, Limerick have done one, they might get a second or third, you don’t know.

“When you have a bunch of young lads, if you really think about the age of the Clare panel, trust me, to cope with winning sometimes is difficult. 

“But I think that Clare bunch is a very unique bunch, they’ve won National League and All-Ireland, not so bad. Is there more in them? I still believe there is more in them, and they are one of the greatest Clare teams that has ever played in the history.

“That’s being honest about it. Some people might like to knock them, even within their own county, but them lads are unreal.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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