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Around every hurling corner there’s someone ready to have a pop at the Waterford manager, saying he’s this, that and the other.
In fact, ‘experts’ having a go at Davy has become so popular that it’s already been filed in a GAA punditry folder labelled ‘lazy and predictable’.
Daithi Regan and Babs Keating haven’t spared the scorn when it comes to Fitzgerald and both were probably sanding the corners off their “I told you so” utterances in anticipation of Waterford losing to Kilkenny last Sunday. Only Waterford didn’t lose.
Thankfully, that means both should be a tad quieter this week when it comes to the Deise boss, who was in stoical form following his team’s excellent win over the Cats at Walsh Park.
No doubt he was delighted, even thrilled with both the result and the performance, but like John Mullane during his post-match comments at Parnell Park the previous week, Fitzgerald was keeping the joy within.
Inevitably, the All-Ireland final question was pitched in his direction: did this win carry any additional significance for him and his team given what unfurled last time out against Kilkenny?
“The only thing I thought about September was to use it as a motivation; people said it would finish the team” he began.
“Listen, there’s no point reading too much into today either. We won the game, that’s it. We know we’ve a lot of work to do.”
Added Fitzgerald rhetorically: “Do you honestly think Kilkenny will be that bothered? Brian Cody will use that as motivation for his lads to get them going again during the year.
“I’m just happy with the way we played. I don’t care if it was Kilkenny or whoever we were playing today. To block and tackle and hassle and harry: that’s what this Waterford team is all about and that’s how we got the win today.”
Noting Waterford’s conceding a goal for the second successive outing at Walsh Park just seconds after scoring one themselves, Fitzgerald said this was something the team would have to work on.
“I’m not under any illusions whatsoever that we still have a lot of work to do,” he continued.
“The one thing I want to do is to create a lot of fighting for places. If there’s seven lads coming back into [the panel], let them try and get back. There’s no one going to walk onto the team. You have to work your way onto the team and that’s the way I want it.
“Winning today is a help, so it is. I always knew that we played one of the games of the year last year against Tipperary but people kept on talking about the other one. It didn’t happen for us in the final – fine.
“These aren’t bad lads; they’re good, honest working lads. But I guarantee you that come June, July and August, there’ll be no one talking about us beating Kilkenny in March. It was a good win on the day but that’s it.”
And what were the Waterford boss’s views on the sendings-off of Declan Prendergast and Eddie Brennan, along with the four yellow cards brandished by referee Anthony Stapleton?
“I’m sure that it works both ways, to tell you the truth,” he said when asked about his full-back’s striking Brennan’s helmet with this hurl. “Grand, Declan did hit him, but there’s always niggling and stuff going on over the course of a whole game…
“You can’t condone certain things that happen and we’ll talk about that and get it sorted out. It’s a pity to see red cards.”
Fitzgerald continued: “I thought the yellows were flashed a bit too easily. The game was good and there were good players gone from both sides and it was a pity for them. That’s why I’d like to see a bit more leniency.
“The only thing I had words about with the referee were the amount of steps being taken and a bit of pulling and dragging and that’s all I was saying to him. I think you should be allowed a forum to make a point and I think that’s important.”
Reflecting on a good day at the office, Davy Fitzgerald stated: “The brand of hurling we played wasn’t bad – we tackled hard, we used the ball well and we used our heads.
“I’d be happy enough with the display, but I know that we’re not the finished article and we have a lot of work to do yet.”
Victory over Dublin in Parnell Park on March 22nd will get one or two Waterford fans thinking about progress in the League and if that comes, well and good.
But Davy Fitzgerald’s primary objective, as he’s stated on several occasions since the turn of the year, involves getting his charges ready for Limerick on June 14th.
And while few, as he pointed out, might recall Waterford beating Kilkenny four months from now, the repercussions of this victory could provide a tremendous fillip for his panel ahead of another big hurling summer.