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'Mags D'Arcy and Davy Fitzgerald are a tremendous fit:' Ex-Wexford boss backs backroom appointment

Liam Griffin says that four-time All-Ireland winner Mags D’Arcy is a great addition to the Wexford hurlers.

Updated at 17.03

FORMER WEXFORD BOSS Liam Griffin has backed the appointment of four-time All-Ireland winner Mags D’Arcy as part of Wexford’s backroom team, calling it ‘a tremendous fit’ for manager Davy Fitzgerald.


D’Arcy has been working with the senior hurlers for over a month, assisting the goalkeeping coach Noel Considine, and is currently not playing with the Wexford camogie team, due to injury.

She has known Fitzgerald for over a decade after first meeting him at a camogie championship match against Clare, and the pair have kept in touch ever since.

The St Martin’s goalkeeper has been playing at inter-county level for the past 16 years, picking up two All-Stars awards along the way.

In addition to winning an All-Ireland title in 2007, she was also part of the Wexford side that completed a famous three-in-row between 2010 and 2012.

Griffin, who guided the Wexford hurlers to All-Ireland success in 1996, has admired D’Arcy’s talent throughout her decorated career, and believes she will be a significant addition to the backroom team.

Liam Griffin All Ireland Hurling Final 1996 Liam Griffin celebrating Wexford's All-Ireland triumph in 1996. Source: © Billy Stickland/INPHO

“She’s a brilliant goalkeeper, an All-Star goalkeeper. She was probably the best of all the goalkeepers in camogie for a long number of years and she’s plenty to add [to the team].

“I’ve been involved in talks myself with the camogie seniors over the years so I’ve got to know her but sure obviously I’ve watched her and know plenty about her.

She’s a top class appointment, an unusual appointment in hurling terms but that’s ok, it’s good for everybody.

“Everyone’s a winner on this, I don’t see one single negative in this.”

Speaking to The42 last week at the ‘Liberty Insurance Women in Sport, The Next Chapter’ symposium in Croke Park, D’Arcy said she is enjoying the experience at the moment and has been welcomed by the panel.

She also spoke about her reaction to the opportunity when it was first presented to her.

“I’m going, ‘You know what, I may be out of my depth,” she said. “I may go into the dressing room with 30-40 lads and I may be looked at differently. But by God, am I going to put my shoulders back and pretend I belong here!’”

Griffin can relate to that experience from occasions when he delivered talks in camogie dressing-rooms, admitting that the situation was sometimes ‘awkward.’

Mags D'Arcy Mags D'Arcy in action for Wexford in 2016. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“I think Mags has got the personality to handle that,” says Griffin. “This is in no way tokenism, because if it was tokenism, I’d be the first to say, ‘this is a load of crap.’ She’s well qualified.”

During his stint as the Wexford manager, Griffin employed female sports psychologist Niamh Fitzpatrick, at time when he says such a move was ‘scoffed upon’ in the GAA.

Griffin selected Fitzpatrick after a round of interviews, but there was some uncertainty about how the public would perceive the news.

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A team vote was held to determine whether they should proceed with the appointment, and a positive verdict was unanimous.

Griffin feels that she played a crucial role in their All-Ireland success.

“She was one of the greatest appointments I think ever, and I’m not saying it lightly.

“We had a good management team, I don’t deny that. Everybody played their part, every single person that was part of the team behind the team.

“I’m telling you categorically that without Niamh Fitzpatrick in there Wexford would have won no All-Ireland in ’96.

It doesn’t make you less of a hard man just because you have a woman in the dressing room. If it’s going to do anything for you, it’s worth embracing.”

He continues:

“That was then, this is now and I think we’re in a much more progressive era now. So long as we don’t go mad doing it just to be looking good. The person has to fit and Mags D’Arcy and Davy are a tremendous fit when you look at it.”

Griffin would like to see other Wexford camogie legends following in D’Arcy’s footsteps to take up coaching duties and other roles within hurling management teams.

Similar to the job detail surrounding D’Arcy’s appointment, he would like to see those who take up those coaching positions to focus on specific areas of the team.

It’s difficult across 15 positions on the team, but it’s not difficult in selected positions and it’s not difficult in a backroom team. If somebody’s got good intuition in being a selector, why not? I don’t see why not.

“For example, I think Mary Leacy is one of the finest centre-backs I ever saw [in] hurling or camogie in 30 years.

Mary Leacy Mary Leacy. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“She was an outstanding player and outstanding hurler. The same with Ursula Jacob and I don’t want to be singling out a lot of people but we’ve really good players who have a lot to offer in certain areas, but it has to be specific and it has to be like a job description.

It’s not about bringing in token women or token men into places, that’s counterproductive in my opinion and undermines the actual dressing room.”

Wexford are facing into a National League quarter-final clash against reigning champions Galway next weekend, having finished the regulation games in third place on the Division 1A table.

The top four teams are all on equal points with six each.

Lee Chin Lee Chin in action for Wexford during their Allianz League clash against Cork. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Griffin beams that he’s ‘over the moon’ with how the team is progressing at this stage of the year and is pleased to see some good work being conducted at grassroots level.

“Last year, the most important thing was getting into the first division and the most important thing for this year was to stay in it. If that doesn’t count for success, then what does?

“We need to be at top to promote our game and keep it coming and there’s some good work going in at the ground level in Wexford at last.

“If we can keep that work going and keep our stuff going with Davy at the top and continue on from Davy’s era, I think Wexford are around to stay.”

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