Boss praises ‘su­per-hu­man ef­fort’ but lashes ref­eree

Wexford People - - FRONT PAGE - BREN­DAN FUR­LONG Sports re­porter

DAVY FITZGER­ALD lashed out at the of­fi­ci­at­ing af­ter Wex­ford lost out on a place in the pro­vin­cial fi­nal by one point to a stun­ning Kilkenny come­back in their fi­nal round robin Se­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship game played be­fore a 17,516 crowd in Nowlan Park on Satur­day.

Wex­ford dom­i­nated this game for 40 min­utes, hold­ing a seven-point in­ter­val lead which they in­creased to nine in the open­ing five min­utes of the se­cond-half.

How­ever, what Fitzger­ald had been warn­ing about be­fore the cham­pi­onship even com­menced be­came a re­al­ity as the play­ing of four games within the space of 21 days struck the Wex­ford play­ers.

Their legs gave way in the fol­low­ing 20 min­utes as they were un­able to cope with the phys­i­cal de­mands placed on them, given such a de­mand­ing fix­tures sched­ule.

And while the Cats are alive and kick­ing, Fitzger­ald still found time to praise his play­ers, de­scrib­ing their dis­play dur­ing that 40 min­utes as ‘phe­nom­e­nal’

He also claimed they were ham­pered by some of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing of ref­eree James McGrath from West­meath.

After­wards, Fitzger­ald was clearly irate that Wex­ford’s cause wasn’t helped by some de­ci­sions that went against his team.

‘That’s not right, I think I’m wast­ing my time in this job. I am not go­ing to say why, but I am wast­ing my time. Just go back and look at it. Fair play to Kilkenny and they fought back hard. I re­ally ad­mire their style.

‘There’s frees given in one half and they’re not given as easy in the other half. I love the way Kilkenny play but we might as well waste our time if it’s not one hun­dred per cent across the board.

‘That’s be­ing to­tally hon­est. They dis­al­lowed Paul Mor­ris one. Fine. Af­ter he get­ting thumped him­self. That’s grand. Dis­al­lowed a point af­ter he get­ting thumped and re­act­ing back. Dis­ap­point­ment doesn’t come into it.

‘I knew we were go­ing to fade. For us to get what we got out of it, that was a su­per-hu­man ef­fort. Four weeks is tough go­ing. I think if we had a week’s break, trust me, we would have fin­ished the game a lot stronger. Be­cause we are as fit as any­one in the coun­try,’ he added.

‘I thought we should have been up ten or eleven points in the firsthalf. I thought there was only one team in it. I said to the boys in the se­cond-half, “the only thing that is go­ing to catch us here, have we the en­ergy to keep go­ing?” I said it to the boys on the side­line.’

Fine mar­gins win or lose games, but Fitzger­ald was in­sis­tent that his side is not get­ting a fair deal.

‘We re­ceived one free in­side the Kilkenny ‘45, com­pare that to them (Kilkenny), while in two and a half hours’ hurl­ing we have re­ceived four.

‘Against Dublin we were lucky to get out of it, against Gal­way you could cite dif­fer­ent things, frees along with the many times they were throw­ing the ball in­stead of hand­pass­ing in tight sit­u­a­tions, but Gal­way were the bet­ter team.

‘How can we win tight games get­ting no frees in­side the op­po­si­tion ‘45? We are not get­ting the frees the same as the other sides. Kilkenny frees were all in­side the ‘45. The facts stand up for them­selves.

‘The stan­dard of ref­er­ee­ing is ter­ri­ble, but I’m so proud of the lads. The per­for­mance they gave through that open­ing 40 min­utes was the best hurl­ing I’ve seen from a Wex­ford side for many years, but we surely de­serve frees in­side the op­pos­ing ‘45.

‘We play an ex­cit­ing brand of hurl­ing, which is at­trac­tive to watch and great for the game, but some of the frees in this game were un­be­liev­able de­ci­sion.

Fitzger­ald must wait to see who his pre­lim­i­nary quar­ter-fi­nal op­po­nents will be, as it will be either Car­low or West­meath from the Joe McDon­agh Cup, with the game sched­uled for on July 7/8.

‘I am look­ing for­ward to the next phase of the cham­pi­onship. Hope­fully we will have a huge im­pact,’ added Fitzger­ald, whose squad will re­turn to train­ing over the week­end in prepa­ra­tion for the knock­out stages.

Mean­while, Wex­ford Se­nior foot­ballers made their exit from the cham­pi­onship when they were shocked by Water­ford be­fore a sparse at­ten­dance at In­no­vate Wex­ford Park ear­lier on Satur­day.

With the Mi­nor foot­ballers also elim­i­nated from the cham­pi­onship, fol­low­ing hugely dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mances, it will take a mir­a­cle for the Un­der-20 foot­ballers to main­tain an in­ter­est when they play Dublin in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park on Satur­day (2 p.m.), es­pe­cially as Se­nior trio Eoin Porter, Mar­tin and Barry O’Connor are in­el­i­gi­ble. Wex­ford need a vic­tory while they will also look to Long­ford de­feat­ing West­meath to get through to the knock­out phase.


A de­jected Davy Fitzger­ald leav­ing the field along with Aidan Nolan af­ter Satur­day’s one-point de­feat.

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