“You’ll obviously be looking at Limerick, who are the team at the moment. How do they set up? Where do their players end up spending a lot of time?”
After having a conversation with his players, Davy Fitzgerald has decided to head into his fifth season as Wexford manager.
The highlight of his tenure to date was Wexford’s Leinster title in 2019, the county’s first in 15 years. However, 2020 ended in disappointment, with Fitzgerald’s men going out in the Qualifiers Round 2 to his native Clare.
Speaking at the launch of Londis’ sponsorship of Ireland’s Fittest Family, Fitzgerald says he is already planning for the 2021 season ahead and has paid particular attention to Limerick.
When asked about coming up with a new way to play against top teams, the Wexford manager went into detail about how he goes about planning tactics.
He said: “It will be me just writing things down and drawing up a few things. Like I have my sheets out in front of me. Different formations, different things.
“You’ll obviously be looking at Limerick, who are the team at the moment. How do they set up? Where do their players end up spending a lot of time?
“That’s something I do quite a bit. If teams are on top, ok, where are they getting a lot of possession? Where are they crowding? How can we get around that? So you’d be looking at different avenues to see is there something you can do different.”
The former All-Ireland winner with Clare, both as a player and a manager, has focussed on Limerick’s half-back line.
He continued: “Like Limerick’s platform always starts from their half-back line. Their half-back line is their starting platform because their half-forward line is always back in their half-back line. Nine times out of ten they have way more bodies back there and that’s their platform to start.
“So you’re trying to think ok, where can we break them down in that platform? Or can we break them down?”
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 30, 2019
While coming up with a style of play, Fitzgerald would tweak his tactics based on the opposition. What works against a Limerick may not work against a Galway.
“You have to tweak it a bit, it depends who you’re playing. Different counties have different style of plays, believe it or not. It depends what [style of play] you’re playing and you have to tweak it. Try and see ok, is there something we can enforce on them that can cause them a few problems?”
“There’s a load of different variables, it’s not always right. It can go horribly wrong on you. But you’re trying to see how can I stop their strong points and to bring a few of our strong points into play.”
Wexford’s campaign ended with a whimper after back-to-back defeats to Galway and Clare, losing by 13 and seven points respectively. This naturally came as a massive disappointment to Fitzgerald. However, he insists he won’t be making any drastic changes to the overall style of play.
“Yeah I won’t change all the stuff we do. But, is there one or two small little things? Yeah. There’s one thing that I’d be excited about trying. I don’t know if it will work or not. But there’s something a small bit different that I’ve been looking at.
“I’ve had a meeting with our backroom staff already this year. We’ve talked about it and we’re exploring a few different possibilities. Will there be a massive change in our style? No.”
Wexford’s tackle count.
The former Waterford manager was more concerned about Wexford’s work-rate in those two defeats.
“The big thing for me was the two games last year. Our work-rate and tackle count was way back. We have to figure out why that was. It wasn’t even half. It was less than half of what we normally do.
“I need that to get back up to where it should be. Wexford won’t be competitive unless it gets back up to where it needs to be. And if we get it back up, we’ll be there or thereabouts.”
Despite getting to an All-Ireland semi-final in 2019, you get the sense that Davy Fitzgerald still has unfinished business with Wexford.
Ireland’s Fittest Family Londis.
Londis has announced it will sponsor Ireland’s Fittest Family show for a second year running. RTE’s hit family programme, now in its eighth season, returns to our screens on Sunday, January 3rd in a new 6.30pm slot.