Wexford buoyed by Davy's power of persuasion
By John Harrington
Rory O’Connor says self-belief won’t be an issue for the Wexford hurlers when they begin their Leinster Senior Hurling Championship campaign against Dublin at Wexford Park on Sunday.
That’s because team-manager Davy Fitzgerald has a knack of convincing his players that they’re good enough to achieving anything they set out to accomplish.
“He'd nearly convince a girls' U-10 rugby team that they'd beat the All Blacks!”, O’Connor told GAA.ie. “He'd really have you gunning for whoever you're playing.
“He's definitely been very influential. He'll give you little one-on-one tips. He's always focused on the individual player and will always have something different for different players. In that regard he's very helpful.
“I'd put a lot down to mindset. All of these teams are fairly equivalent when it comes to hurling. It's whoever has the desire and really wants it the most.”
Wexford certainly want to win a Leinster Senior Hurling Championship very badly indeed.
They haven’t lifted the Bob O’Keeffe Cup since 2004 and but look better equipped now than at any other time in the last 18 years to end the county’s long wait.
“Yeah, it seems to be a possibility now at this stage,” said O’Connor. “For the last couple of years it wasn't, it was very far out of our reach. But now we're up there competing with the likes of Kilkenny and Galway and Dublin.
“But we're only focusing on the first match against Dublin. That will be a massive, massive match.”
It looked like Wexford’s graph was still on an upward curve for much of the League as they beat Waterford, Cork, and Clare in Division 1A and then, most impressively, reigning League and All-Ireland Champions Galway in the Division 1 quarter-final.
But their campaign ended on an off-note when Kilkenny beat them by nine points in the semi-final.
Wexford seemed a jaded team that day, but O’Connor is confident their batteries are now fully recharged again for the championship.
“It was six or seven weeks on the trot in the League whereas Kilkenny had a week's break coming up to that game because of the snow that would have definitely helped them as being fresh for the semi-final," he said.
“We were a bit flat against Kilkenny. We didn't show up whatsoever. We weren't the team we were throughout the League and it was a little bit disappointing. We let ourselves down and let Wexford down and all the supporters that turned up to Wexford Park that day.
“But things are going very well at the moment again. The break came at a good time for us. It's a different season now, it's championship, and you're going to work on something different and bring something new to it.”