Wexford hero Storey admits Davy Fitz was 'totally wrong' but urges leniency from GAA chiefs

“Nice fellas win nothing, bastards win everything.”

Sunday's flashpoint incident as Davy Fitzgerald enters the Nowlan Park pitch.
Sunday's flashpoint incident as Davy Fitzgerald enters the Nowlan Park pitch.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

FORMER WEXFORD STAR Martin Storey has admitted that Davy Fitzgerald was “totally wrong” to touch an opposition player in last Sunday’s Allianz Hurling League semi-final – but is urging GAA chiefs to be lenient in any punishment meted out.

Model County manager Fitzgerald, irate in the aftermath of Tipperary’s second goal, came onto the pitch to remonstrate with match referee Diarmuid Kirwan, who didn’t award a free to James Breen in the passage of play that saw the Wexford defender turned over before Noel McGrath netted.

Fitzgerald jostled Tipperary’s Niall O’Meara before shoving Jason Forde, incidents caught on camera.

He now faces an anxious wait before GAA disciplinary chiefs decide on a course of action.

The worst-case scenario for Fitzgerald is an eight-week ban, which would rule see him suspended for the Leinster quarter-final against a round-robin qualifier on the weekend of 27/28 May, and a likely semi-final with Kilkenny on 10 June.

An eight-week suspension, a possibility of Fitzgerald is charged with ‘physical interference with an opposing player or team official’, would be back-dated to last Sunday, and only expire at midnight on the day of the Kilkenny clash.

Davy Fitzgerald clashes with Jason Forde Davy Fitzgerald tangles with Tipperary player Jason Forde. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A high-ranking GAA source has indicated, however, that it’s more likely that Fitzgerald’s offence will come under guidelines relating to breaches of match regulations, with a one or two-match touchline ban applicable.

In this case, the GAA’s Competitions Control Committee (CCC) is expected to plump for a one-match suspension.

1996 All-Ireland medallist Storey reflected: “You can’t touch a player. Right, we all get caught up on it and you can run in but you can’t put your hands on a player from the opposition.

I felt he was totally wrong, that’s my opinion. You can’t do that anymore but it’s gone so politically correct and I don’t agree with all of the sh**e either that’s going on. There’s so much analysis now that referees can’t let anything go. There are too many cameras and there’s no bit of sorting out time anymore.

“I believed in that, when backs tried to sort you out in the first few minutes but you stood your ground and markers were laid down.

“Now you have umpires telling referees things. In my time, all they had to do was wave their flags. It really changed with Liam Dunne and Brian O’Meara hand-bagging (2001). That forever destroyed the bit of manliness and ‘manning up’ in the game.”

Liam Dunne and Brian O'Meara 18/8/2001 Wexford's Liam Dunne and Tipperary's Brian O'Meara were sent off for this off-the-ball incident in 2001. O'Meara missed the All-Ireland final through suspension. Source: INPHO

Storey added that while he wouldn’t be in favour of a touchline ban for Fitzgerald, he admits that GAA chiefs may be forced into action.

He said: “I wouldn’t be in favour of banning him but he can’t do what he did.

“Here’s my argument: if Jason Forde turned around and dropped him with a box, he would have been suspended for a year, and he (Forde) wouldn’t have been wrong because he was struck first and was defending himself.

“So there probably has to be some punishment for Davy. I don’t agree with it but I don’t think there was anything in it, a bit of passion with his side under pressure. He felt hard done by because James Breen was probably fouled and the ref let two or three of them go before that. The goal came out of that and that’s why Davy got animated about it.

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Martin Storey Wexford's 1996 All-Ireland winning star Martin Storey. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Davy loves the fire, he knew he was creating a fire, and he wanted our lads to get stuck in and break the bit of Tipp momentum.

“And that’s a good thing. Davy knew what he was doing.”

And Storey, former manager of his home club Oulart-the-Ballagh, revealed: “Every one of us on the sideline tells lads to do things that are not within the rules of the game, but you have to if you want to win matches.

Nice fellas win nothing, bastards win everything. Any of the good players, they’ll hit you when they have to hit you. Like him or hate him, Davy knows about winning.

“Everywhere he’s gone, he’s had success. With Waterford, he won a Munster title, in Clare it was an All-Ireland and a League title, Fitzgibbon Cups with Limerick IT.

“He knows what he’s doing and he knows where he’s trying to get to with the Wexford team. I would love if every one of our players had as much passion when it comes to the thing.

“And I would think it would be wrong if they (GAA officials) do something to him, I wouldn’t agree with it, but there have to be repercussions for what happened. The problem is the over-analysis, the bullshit that takes place over similar incidents.

Jesus, I remember one year, they stood ourselves and Kilkenny in the one corridor. When their backs were turned, we were stuck in each other.

“When you train for eight months for something, why would you not be prepared to fight for it, after giving up four or five nights a week?”

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