Paudie Foley is ready to excel
By John Harrington
There comes a moment in every sportsperson’s career trajectory when they realise the time has come to spread their shoulders and be the best they can be.
They’ve come through the developmental phase and now have the maturity to put into good effect all the important lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Wexford and DCU hurler Paudie Foley is now hitting that sweet spot where he is demanding greater things of himself and has the self-confidence to deliver.
He has been hugely impressive for DCU during their run to a first ever Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup Final appearance against UL this Saturday, and has really caught the eye for Wexford too in the Allianz Hurling League.
When you pay him that compliment he doesn’t rebuff it. He knows he’s hurling well and he’s determined to keep getting better.
“I’m pushing on now, I’m 22/23 and I’ve been around the Fitz team for the last two years, this is my third year now,” Foley told GAA.ie.
“I feel like I am a leader now and the best way to lead is through performance. That’s the thing, just going out every day and trying to start well in a game and driving everybody on.
“I am confident in my own performances with Wexford and with the college as well. I feel like I’m excelling and my fitness is where it needs to be, at the top.”
He partly puts his good form down to a renewed appetite for hurling.
Last year he felt like his inner battery had been drained by a number of seasons for hurling all year round for club, college, and county, and so he made the decision to spend the summer in San Francisco rather than hurl for Wexford.
He missed out on Davy Fitzgerald’s eventful first year in charge of Wexford, but believes he has benefited from his break from the game and is highly motivated to make his mark with the county team in 2018.
“This year, my hunger's back, that's where I want to be,” he said. “I'm delighted to get the chance to go back in with the Wexford squad.
“I just want to drive it on and see what happens this year because we have the potential, we've been showing it so far. Just, hopefully, it'll keep going good.
“It's a completely professional set-up. He's (Davy Fitzgerald) a brilliant manager. I have full respect for him. I just came in and he just said, 'I want you in there'. He just said, 'Take your opportunity. Listen to what I say'.
“He developed me as a player and I'm still developing. It's been brilliant and all the lads are very welcoming coming back in.
“I was in there the time of Liam Dunne two years before. Delighted to be back in, the lads are just seeing new blood coming in, it's for the betterment of Wexford, I think. Everyone has been very welcoming."
Foley has started every single one of Wexford’s League matches so far this year and consistently been one of their better players.
Their defeat to Tipperary last weekend was their first of the campaign, but Foley still caught the eye, especially when he moved into the sweeper position in the second-half.
And despite that loss, he sees no reason why they shouldn't have big ambitions for the League and beyond this season.
“We're in a good position in the league with Wexford this year," he said. "Hopefully, we'll drive on and win the league.
“That'd be the short-term goal and then move onto the championship. Win every game, that's the main goal.”
In the short-term, though, he's not looking beyond Saturday's Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup Final.
A star-studded University of Limerick team are most people's favourites to win the match, but Foley is looking forward to showing everyone what he and his team-mates are capable of.
"That's what the bookies are making us - mad underdogs, alright," he said. "We've proved so far we can hurl.
"We've hurled against a lot of the big teams already so anything can happen on the day. We're just looking forward to being there and putting on a show and see what we can do, definitely."