It’s a long round trip from Wexford to Clare. Davy Fitzgerald is no stranger to it. He reckons he did “120 trips up and down to Wexford” this season. But it was the one time his players made the journey that will stick with him the most.
“They let me know. They gave me 24 hours’ notice, fair play to them,” Fitzgerald explained when asked about his panel travelling to his house in Clare to convince him to stay on as their senior hurling manager.
“They knew that there was something else that I could have done besides managing the team. They just wanted to let me know how they felt.
“They’re a great bunch of guys. Absolutely delighted to stay on with them. When you’ve a good few of them arrive down to your house, mad for the road, it was an easy enough decision at the end of the day.”
It was a tough season for Davy Fitzgerald and Wexford. Their fixture list was cruel to them, and the sheer amount of games in comparison to last season hurt them with fatigue beginning to show towards the end of the Championship.
“I’m not making excuses but I’ll give you a fact,” begins Fitzgerald.
“Wexford for the last ten years would have played on average two big games, played a quarter-final, played two or three championship games, an average of six games a year and win probably two of them.
“If they’re lucky, two to three. We played 15 this year. 15. So you go from six to 15 this year, and we won nine. I kind of went to the well a bit too much at times, maybe I just need to time it a bit different.
“Maybe not put out the team in the Walsh Cup all the time, I just have to look at what I do a bit more smartly. It just looks like our edge was kind of gone at the end.”
One man who was a key component in Wexford’s season was star-forward Lee Chin. The 25-year-old was one of the many members of the panel who made the trip to Fitzgerald’s house, and outlined how the gesture was “the least” they “could have done” for their manager.
“We took it upon ourselves as players to really show him what he means to us,” said Chin.
“We really appreciate him in Wexford and we love working with him.
“We thought, lookit, it’s the least that we could have done it get down to see him and in some ways we wanted to sympathise with him: we understand his situation with travel and his other commitments and his own personal life. Obviously, we were being somewhat selfish in saying that, ‘Look, we want you back.’
“I think Davy is the kind of man who would never commit to something that his heart is not in. This is why he’s there. I don’t think it’s just for us going down to him. It probably pushed him towards that decision a little bit more and we’re just grateful that he did.”
Chin even joked that the gesture was so “spur of the moment” that the team opted to carpool instead of organising a bus for the squad.
“We actually carpooled! It was kind of spur of the moment. We nominated a couple of cars to go and packed them in – some of the stuff that was going on was probably a bit illegal but we got down there and home safe enough.”
The GAA and the GPA in conjunction with Aer Lingus and Fenway Sports Management (FSM) today officially launched the Fenway Hurling Classic 2018 which will take place in Boston on November 18th.
All-Ireland hurling champions Limerick will compete for the Players Champions Cup in a Super 11’s format tournament against reigning holders Clare and new contenders in Cork and Wexford.