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Davy Fitz In two or three years we'll see if Limerick have a dynasty... I don't think it will be like Dublin


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Davy Fitzgerald at the launch of the Londis sponsorship of RTÉ TV show Ireland’s Fittest Family. The Wexford hurling manager has spoken on the Late Late Show about the online abuse he and his father have received. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Davy Fitzgerald at the launch of the Londis sponsorship of RTÉ TV show Ireland’s Fittest Family. The Wexford hurling manager has spoken on the Late Late Show about the online abuse he and his father have received. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Davy Fitzgerald at the launch of the Londis sponsorship of RTÉ TV show Ireland’s Fittest Family. The Wexford hurling manager has spoken on the Late Late Show about the online abuse he and his father have received. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

By Colm Keys

Davy Fitzgerald registers his respect for Limerick hurling and what has been achieved. But membership of the Treaty's growing infatuation society - which involves submission that they are set to dominate the game in the way that Kilkenny did for a decade? He has yet to pay his dues on that one.

Projections that they have the structures and resources in place to rule hurling like Dublin rule football are blown out of proportion, he feels. And he reminds you that even though the perception is that they were 'caught' last year, they were still beaten.

"I don't think the gap is massive and I think a number of teams will be trying to figure out a few different bits and pieces. I think the gap is makeable, I think it can be made up," he predicted.

"In another two or three years we'll be able to answer that question; whether they'll have a dynasty or not. My view is, I don't think it will be the same as Dublin are in football competitions. Will Limerick win another All-Ireland? They could win another one or two, it's just I don't see them doing five or six in a row.

"When a team is winning, there are so many different things going to come out about what they've done here, there and every place. They have a lot of great structures in Limerick, but there are a lot of counties out there that have great structures as well. One or two results change all that thinking. Like, I can remember the wonder as to whether Kilkenny were ever going to come off the top in hurling. 2007, 2008, 2009 - people are thinking there is no hope of this.

Unbeatable

"Limerick look pretty unbeatable at the moment but I'm sure Brian Cody, Liam Sheedy, Shane O'Neill, myself, Kieran Kingston, Liam Cahill - we are not going to just sit by and say, 'That's it, best of luck lads, you can have the next three or four years to yourselves'. We'll be rattling at the heads to see, 'ok, they are up there, what can we do?'

"And let me say this quite clearly - you have to admire what Limerick have done and fair play to them. They carry themselves well, everything they do is really good and professional and fair play, an unbelievable team. But it's up to us. So we can all talk about Limerick but I think we've got to go back and focus on our own counties and get ourselves as good as we can possibly get ourselves."

Can Wexford be in that conversation? Fitzgerald has just come off the back of the poorest of his four seasons in charge, certainly in championship terms, as they never came close to the standards in either championship defeat to Galway and Clare they have been setting for themselves.

In the immediate aftermath of the defeat to Clare, Fitzgerald said it was made clear to him by the players that they wanted him in charge in 2021. And within days he had committed to a fifth year at the helm. He will also be involved with his club Sixmilebridge next year, an arrangement made easier, he feels, by the introduction of a split season.

"I would be very proud of the season," he said. "I'm not happy with the Wexford part and how we were but in general, I would think that the GAA has shown what it's about. People went out there, went to training, worked extremely hard. Trust me, from being involved, it was a way different scenario, a way different feeling.

"Going into empty stadiums, being so mindful of trying to keep your own space, do the right things - there were so many different things this year that made it more difficult. But I'm proud we made the effort, proud the way the GAA carried it off.

"I know in the club (generally) we had a few incidents of celebrating afterwards. I'd like to think we learned a lesson from that. While all the matches and all the officials were great at carrying out the stuff, there might have been a few mistakes made. But if you see the way even the All-Ireland champions carried themselves, I think it's very commendable. Fair play to them."

He feels the break worked against Wexford as results, on the field and in terms of the fitness measurements they are guided by, indicated. And on that front he admits he may have got his projections wrong for how the season would go.

"I did believe there would be GAA from day one and I said, 'OK, they'll put the counties first', because I said it's easier to manage, it's easier to control, you don't have 20 or 30 or 40 clubs out in the one county.

"I'm not making excuses, but I think we were moving very nicely in March and April and I think we would have been serious, probably hitting July. If I showed you the fitness results of us in June, you wouldn't believe them; if I showed them to you in October, there was a massive difference."

From a broader perspective, in response to a proposal from the GAA's playing rules committee, Fitzgerald supports the advocacy of a penalty when a clear goalscoring opportunity is denied by a foul but stops short of a sin-bin, by way of yellow card, in hurling as a complementary punishment.

"If it's a clear goalscoring opportunity, then I think you're entitled to a penalty. That's being honest because someone has pulled down someone, in order to make sure that they don't get that opportunity. I would probably see something like that having a lot of merit.

"In fairness, in soccer you might be nearly 20 or 30 yards out from goal but you're the last man back and you pull a fella down? It's nearly seen as, 'He has to go', because you've stopped a goalscoring opportunity.

"We have to be very careful on it, that it has to be a clear-cut goalscoring opportunity. If it is, I actually think it will take that type of fouling out of the game. I think it will get rid of it."

But on the latest move by the GAA's playing rules committee to introduce a sin-bin, flatly rejected at last year's Congress, Fitzgerald is much less supportive.

"I don't want to see the physicality taken away. The cynical ones, 110pc. But I don't know if I'd be a fan of putting someone in the sin-bin for 10 minutes on a yellow unless it was bordering a red, then I could see it."

Davy Fitzgerald was speaking at the launch of Londis' sponsorship of Ireland's Fittest Family which returns to our screens on Sunday at 6.30pm.

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