Waterford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald. Bryan Keane/INPHO
Déise Delight

Davy Fitzgerald is 'the perfect guy' for the Waterford hurlers - Moran

Former Déise star Kevin Moran on the return of Davy Fitz, a disappointing 2022, panel change and league structures.

DAVY FITZGERALD IS “the perfect guy” for the Waterford hurlers, according to former Déise star Kevin Moran.

The Clare All-Ireland winner is back at the helm, after succeeding Liam Cahill in the role he previously filled in his first experience of senior inter-county hurling management between 2008 and 2011.

Fitzgerald went on to manage his native county and then Wexford, winning All-Ireland, league, Munster and Leinster senior titles and undertaking various other coaching jobs at club and colleges level, and with the Cork camogie team.

Moran was pleased to see him return to the Waterford hot-seat, the defending Division 1 Allianz hurling league champions with a win and a draw under their belts thus far.

“I wasn’t surprised,” the 2012 and 2017 All-Star said. “I thought it was a very good appointment by the Waterford county board. In fairness to them, they got the man that they wanted.

“Liam and Mikey [Bevans, coach] did a great job. It was disappointing when they left last summer. Davy was an ideal replacement.

“He’s an experienced manager, and can put his own stamp on the team. I thought it was a really good, smart move. He’s the perfect guy to get the lads back up to speed, and back operating at the level they were last April and May. There’s a lot of positivity down here with regards to Davy’s appointment.”

Moran, who retired in 2021 after 16 seasons, reflects on Waterford’s disappointment last season.

Having won the league, Waterford raised expectation that they were Limerick’s closest challengers for Liam McCarthy but their championship campaign was a flop as the 2017 and 2020 All-Ireland finalists crashed out of the round-robin phase in Munster.

“Ah sure yeah, Jesus, they were devastated,” Moran recalls. “To go from such highs to such lows in the space of six weeks. That night up in Thurles when they beat Cork in the league, they were on everyone’s lips as the only real team to challenge Limerick.

“I think we all thought that, and were right to think it at the time because they were playing at that level. The previous summer, I do think that they put it up to Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final.

“It’s just a balancing act now. It’s no secret that the big thing this year is to get out of the Munster championship.”

That’s the nature of the current league structure and format. That balancing act he mentions is tricky, with the league final close to championship and the focus more so on the business end of the season.

kevin-moran Pictured is former Waterford hurler and Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup winner with WIT, Kevin Moran as he looks ahead to the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup semi-finals and Final taking place this week. Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Moran was there in 2007 when Waterford won the league and Munster championship, before falling short to Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final. He has that experience of success in both, but is unsure about the current situation.

“It’s very hard. They are super games [in the league], but once they’re over, you ask yourself, ‘Well, what does it really mean?’ The league is such a fantastic competition but if you’re flying it in the latter end of the league, you’re a little bit worried, I reckon, saying, ‘Can we maintain this?’

“There’s no easy answer. It might take more adjusting over the next few years. Ultimately it’s all about the Munster and Leinster championships.”

Looking to the future, De La Salle clubman Moran is mindful of the changes in the Waterford panel of late. Pauric Mahony is the latest retirement, while Stephen O’Keeffe turned down the chance to return to the set-up. 

There’s been no shortage of turnover since the 2017 final, and perhaps to a lesser extent, their last decider appearance in 2020.

“I actually think a lot of teams have changed,” he concludes. “I watched three matches [on Sunday], and there’s an awful lot of evolution of the teams. A lot of guys that I would have played with are now gone. The lads that were a year or two below me are starting to fade away now.

“That 2017 team, I don’t even know if there are four or five still playing, probably just about. The nucleus of what Waterford have is that minor team and U21 team that won the All-Irelands. They won the minor in 2013, and the U21 in 2016. They are in the prime of their career. Hopefully, we can get a push from those lads because they are a super group.”

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