Eoin Kelly: Davy Fitzgerald’s antics have been a benefit to Wexford

One of hurling’s greatest forwards breaks down Sunday’s huge clash and faces the difficult choice between Austin Gleeson and Lee Chin…


People talk a lot about Davy Fitzgerald’s theatrics on the sideline, but I have to say they’ve helped Wexford this year. Where were they 12 months ago?

Whatever he’s doing with Wexford it has worked and this set of players will fight to the death for him. There was 10 points in their quarter-final with Waterford last year, there will not be 10 points in this game on Sunday.

There’ll be wide open spaces at Paírc Uí Chaoimh and this contest may come down to which team can take it by the scruff of the neck early on. When you put your scores on the board, then you can revert back to your usual style of play.

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That’s when that sweeper system is at its best, when your nose is in front, you’ve got clear and there’s bit of panic on the other team who end up shooting from crazy angles. It intriguing battle here and it could be like watching mirror images play each other.

Wexford probably looked at the Leinster final as their big chance of silverware, especially after beating Kilkenny.

It could go either way for them now. The Yellowbellies could just throw off the shackles and go for it and be more attacking or else they’re going to feel the pain of having those guys injured.

Not having Andrew Shore, David Dunne, Damien Reck and especially Liam Óg McGovern would have a massive effect on any team and they’re going to feel the pain more of not having those guys eventually. They may come up short at the weekend due to their lack of squad depth.

Hurling’s brightest stars

On this year’s form, Lee Chin is ahead of Austin Gleeson, but if I had to choose between the two I’d have Austin Gleeson in my team.

The Mount Sion man has that extra thing or two to his armoury, with sidelines and the likes. However, Chin is in serious form. It’s going to be interesting see if these two boys collide with each other on Sunday.

Gleeson returned to form against Kilkenny because he was placed in a central position.

He’s a 6, 8, 9 or 11 player, once he’s placed in any of those positions he can boss the game. I’ve seen more team work in him this year and especially with that ball that he gave to Jamie Barron for the Waterford goal the last day.

That’s the bit of intelligence Austin brings to you, he gave a perfect ball to Barron in extra time. Seemingly with the message on it ‘control this, slip your man’ and that’s what happened.

Speaking of Barron, there’s no way he should be 25/1 for Hurler of the Year. He should be 5/1 or 6/1, he been that good.

Final hurrah for Derek McGrath

We know Derek McGrath, with leaving his teaching post, is putting everything in to this season and without saying it, it’s obvious that he’s putting everything into the Championship.

Things are after falling nicely for him with the win over Kilkenny and Waterford could have a big say in the race for Liam McCarthy yet.

If he goes this year you won’t see him out of hurling, he loves it too much.

They’ve finally beaten The Cats, that was one of his goals and if you said to him at the start of the year ‘would you take Wexford in an All-Ireland quarter final?’ – he would’ve jumped at it.

Davy Fitzgerald and McGrath have the height of respect for one another and I say that is because they have thought outside the box over the last couple of years with how the game can be played differently.

When they were getting the criticism for it, they stuck to their guns and that’s what I admire most about them.

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