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Tom Dempsey On Davy Fitzgerald And The Future Of Wexford Hurling

Between his roles as a player, columnist, coach and broadcaster, there are very few men that have as deep an insight into the ups and downs of Wexford’s hurling fortunes over the past 25 years as Tom Dempsey. From scoring the goal to clinch Liam McCarthy in 1996, to documenting the barren spell of recent years, he’s seen it all.

Leinster Semi Final 22/6/1997 Wexford v Offaly Tom Dempsey(W)/Hubert Rigney(O) © James Meehan/INPHO

Given the recent surprise appointment of Davy Fitzgerald as manager of the senior hurlers this month, he is looking forward to one of the most intriguing years of hurling in the Model County in quite some time.

“To be honest, had someone said to me three weeks ago that Davy Fitzgerald was going to be managing the Wexford hurlers, I’d have called them mad.

“There was no indication that either side was interested in the other or was looking at working with each other. I do think that it is a great coup, both for (Wexford county board chairman) Diarmuid Deveraux, and the county as a whole, to have someone with that bit of extra profile coming in and getting involved.

“From speaking to some of the players, the younger players in particular, there’s a great sense of excitement. Players are really looking forward to getting involved with the squad with Davy as manager. There’s going to be a freshness to the setup. It will be an interesting journey over the next two years or so.’’

Davy Fitzgerald celebrates a score 24/7/2011

One of the main challenges facing Fitzgerald over his term could turn out to be getting access to the best players in the county on a regular basis, and avoiding the injury woes that hampered his predecessor.

‘’One of the things that people might not realise about Liam Dunne’s time in charge is how desperately unlucky he was with regards to injuries to key players. It was soul destroying. There were injuries to six or seven important, first team players at one stage.

“There was a sense of ‘well, who’s going to be next?’ as everything just seemed to go wrong.

“So if Davy can have that bit of luck, and have these top players fit and ready to go, having the Jack Guineys, the David Redmonds and the Shaun Murphys, that will of course be a massive advantage. Having access to the best players will then make implementing his own system of hurling that much easier, and we could have some real success, maybe not in the first 12 months, but in the next 24 months, I’m hopeful we will see some real improvement in Wexford’s fortunes.’’

While hopes of the glory days of ’96 being replicated would be optimistic to the point of delusion, Tom reckons there is no reason Wexford cannot make their presence known among hurling’s elite during Fitzgerald’s tenure.

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Cloughbawn vs Oulart-The Ballagh Wexford senior team manager Davy Fitzgerald

‘’I think sometimes people forget just how successful Davy has been as a manager. He won an All-Ireland and a National League with Clare, and they’re not a county that are renowned for their regular success.

“He’s had some great success at college level and club level as well. He’s coming in to Wexford to do a serious job for two years, and if he can come in and nail down his style of hurling with the team, Wexford could show some real progress.

“I feel that realistically, Wexford under Davy Fitz should get back into the top six teams in the country. Promotion to Division 1A in the league, and a Leinster final appearance within two years would be achievable.

“The top four teams in the country right now are Tipperary, Kilkenny, Waterford and Galway. I don’t think we are going to overtake any of those over two years. I do think that we can get to a level where we can beat the likes of Dublin, Limerick and Clare, and be confident of beating them.

“We have the potential to get to a Leinster final or All-Ireland semi-final, and sure once you get to that stage, anything can happen. One thing that I do know is that the next two years are going to be exciting. People are talking about the team, there’s a buzz around the county. It’s going to be a great time to be a Wexford hurling fan.’’

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.