Davy Fitzgerald ruffled some feathers in Wexford on his first night in charge but he has reaped the rewards.
Like him or loath him, Fitzgerald is nothing but meticulous in his approach to preparing teams. While some of his madcap sideline antics may garner unwanted attention, Fitzgerald has largely produced results as a manager.
With Waterford, Davy went all the way to the All-Ireland final in 2008 (the less said about the shellacking at the hands of Kilkenny the better).
After taking over Clare, he took his native county back to the promised land in 2013, and this time won the All-Ireland, after a replay against Cork.
With LIT, Fitzgerald delivered the institute’s first (and only) two Fitzgibbon Cup titles, having taken charge in 2005. The Sixmilebridge man has, therefore, come to expect results.
When taking over Wexford, Davy knew that if he was to take the Yellowbellies back to the big time he’d need to make demands. Demands of his players and of the County Board.
Coming into the job, Fitzgerald let the board know in no uncertain terms how seriously training would be taken with him at the helm.
“I suppose when I asked the county board for 160 balls for the first night in training, they nearly had a seizure,” Fitzgerland told the Irish Independent.
“I told them I wanted that every night.
“It came as a bit of a shock. I think the lads have enjoyed it and bought into it big-time.”
As for his players, Davy felt he needed men of character if he was going to restore Wexford to the top table of hurling.
“You need mentally strong guys if you are going to the well boy. A fella might be the best hurler under the sun but if he’s not prepared to go to the well, it ain’t going to happen.
“The way they worked for me from day one, they got a fair shock the first night when they went in for training, and they saw the intensity that I wanted.”
While his expectations may be deemed too high, they have secured Wexford promotion already and a return to their first Leinster final since 2008. Throw in a championship victory over Kilkenny for the first time since 2004 (their last Leinster title) and it’s hard to argue Fitzgerald’s demands have not brought about change for the Model County.
Wexford will be underdogs against a formidable Galway side on Sunday for sure. But they weren’t fancied to make it out of Division 1B this year either. They also weren’t expected to take down Kilkenny.
Davy has this Wexford team motoring. They have bought into his demands and now are looking to reap the rewards of their sacrifices.