Davy Fitz unsure if break will affect Wexford’s momentum

Model County aiming to maintain their recent winning sequence against rivals Kilkenny

 

“I’ll let you know on Sunday evening exactly how it went,” says Davy Fitzgerald – when asked how the near two-week “rest” might impact on Wexford’s run through the Allianz Hurling League.

Although already assured of their quarter-final spot, Fitzgerald’s team travel to Kilkenny on Sunday looking to extend a now three-game unbeaten streak over their old rivals, only with precious little training done since their win over Clare, last Sunday week, as a result of Storm Emma.

Wexford were one of the counties worse affected by the snowfall, their training grounds at Ferns still partly blanketed.

“We did about 30 minutes last Tuesday week, after the Clare game, and we’ve done nothing since,” explains Fitzgerald. “We’ll be indoors tonight [Tuesday], probably again Thursday, then maybe get outside Friday. So we’ll have effectively done one field session in two weeks. And I’m sure Kilkenny are the same. It is what it is. We’re not going to sit down and cry.

“We’re just eager to get back out on the field. The interesting thing is what did the two-week break do? I don’t know, because we’ll have very, very little done outdoors. We haven’t done a thing in the snow. There is still a savage amount of snow around the place in Ferns, and that won’t be cleared until Friday

“It’s certainly the worst I can remember, as a manager or player, and never came across anything like this before, a break like this, with no training, in the middle of the league. So I really don’t know. And I don’t think anyone does. Is it a small worry? It is, essentially missing two weeks like that, in the middle of the league.”

Fitzgerald did sent out a sort of emergency training plan to the squad, half-hoping many of his players might at least be out shovelling snow.

“We sent them something to do at home alight, but there wasn’t actually much they could do. I’d say a few lads were laughing the text, thinking ‘yeah Davy, we’ll do that so...’

“Maybe the rest will do them a bit of good. My mind is open, but I’ll have better idea after Sunday how fresh they are. It’s a little unlucky but nothing we can’t get over. I don’t think Galway, and Clare, Limerick are hit as bad. I think they’ve been able to get out this week anyway. But it’s only few days extra for us, it shouldn’t matter too much.”

With three wins over Kilkenny – last year’s league quarter-final, Leinster semi-final, and the Walsh Cup final – Fitzgerald is naturally keen to keep that edge: “Look, you’ll win some, you’ll lose some. It is a little unusual to beat Kilkenny three games in a row, but the big one is the championship. We know it, they know it. That’s where it all comes to the fore, where we both want to win. Records count for nothing come June. Whenever Wexford play Kilkenny, there will always be some cut to it.”

A few changes

However he will be experimenting a little more.

“There will definitely be a few changes for Sunday. Lee Chin definitely won’t be playing, nor Aidan Nolan, Jack Guiney. And in fairness I think our sub goalie [Conor O’Leary] deserves a game, because if anything happened Mark Fanning, you have to be sure the two are able to play under pressure.

“It’s an opportunity for other panel members. To be honest, we’ve kept it pretty consistent the first four rounds, probably only started 18 or 19 different guys, which I’m happy enough with. That’s the way it’s going to be in the championship, you won’t be making crazy changes over the four games.”

Despite the enforced rest/break as a result of weather, Fitzgerald is still a fan of starting the league at the end of January, and keeping April free for club activity: “I kind of like it, and I’ve no problem keeping April free for the clubs, as long as all county sides do it. It’s hard to see that, so it will be interesting, but I know we’ll definitely have three or four weeks of club fixtures in Wexford anyway. It won’t do them any harm. They’ll have spent the bones of five months working with the county by then, so three or four weeks shouldn’t matter.

“And I’ve no problem starting the league at the end of January. November and December are long and dark enough, and I think people are ready to get out by the end of January. If there are big games on there’s nothing better. It’s nice to have something to get for again.”

Such as Sunday in Nowlan Park. 

Wexford camogie All Star goalkeeper Mags D’Arcy has joined Fitzgerald’s backroom as their goalkeeping coach: the four-time All-Ireland winner was invited on board by Fitzgerald last month.

“In that time I’ve really enjoyed doing one-on-one work with the individual players,” she said. “I’ve had nothing but respect and have learned more in the last couple of weeks about professional coaching than 15 years of playing camogie”.

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