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Wednesday 22 May 2019

Davy Fitz will relish battle with a 'ruthless' Galway rival

HURLING MEN: Waterford hurler Kieran Bennett with Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald at the 20th annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge launch. Pic: Sportsfile
HURLING MEN: Waterford hurler Kieran Bennett with Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald at the 20th annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge launch. Pic: Sportsfile

Davy Fitzgerald has quipped that Galway boss Micheál Donoghue is "like a lunatic" on the line whenever their sides meet.

The above description may elicit a few "pot, kettle, black" retorts ahead of Saturday's Allianz Hurling League quarter-final between Galway and Wexford at Pearse Stadium (1.30).

"Donoghue always seems to get up for me, I don't know what the story is," Fitzgerald ventures. "Every time he plays me he's like a lunatic.

"I was watching him on the sideline the last day and he wasn't so bad when I was watching the tape back. So no doubt he will. He's always managed to get right up for it. Maybe I haven't been up for it enough when I've played him. Maybe I need to have a look at that, you know," he adds with a laugh.

The Wexford boss was speaking at yesterday's launch of the 20th annual KN Group All-Ireland GAA Golf Challenge.

Last Sunday's win over Kilkenny has injected a fresh dose of positivity into his adopted Slaneysiders, but Fitzgerald views this weekend as an even bigger challenge.

"I think he's done a great job with them," he says of Donoghue's Galway tenure. "They travel back a lot in numbers, they work very hard.

Intense

"So it'll be interesting because in the Walsh Cup they were very intense with us. They came down to do a job that day and they did it ... and they hadn't many of their first 15 playing. We know we're going to be in a battle."

Even though Galway's Division 1B form graph was pockmarked by a draw in Carlow and last Sunday's last-gasp defeat in Waterford, Davy Fitz predicts that we'll start seeing the true Tribesmen from here on.

"Being in Division 1A and 1B is the Atlantic Ocean of a difference," he says. "I'd think from now on, knowing Donoghue as I know him, he is a very competitive manager. This guy is a ruthless guy ... and I've a feeling from now on you're going to see that ruthlessness that the team are going to portray.

"They'll be very disappointed at losing to a last-minute goal the last day. I've a feeling we're going to feel the brunt of it early on.

"We've got to meet them challenges and I'm looking forward to them. But I think Galway are going to be right there, I really do. They've four or five players to come back to what I looked on their team the last week that will make a difference.

"It's a massive challenge for us. I was looking at it saying, 'Beating Kilkenny, we might get some bit of a breather' ... and we got a really tough quarter-final. But it's going to be a good one for us to go down there into Salthill and have a battle."

Despite last weekend's contrasting results, the bookies have priced Wexford as 7/4 outsiders. Fitzgerald has no problem with that, insisting he prefers to manage an underdog.

Buzz

"I love seeing teams that are not meant to do stuff, do stuff. I get a buzz out of that," he reveals. "If you look at my CV (at) club or even county-wise, I've a nice bit of stuff won but a lot of it would be with teams that haven't done it. That's what I get the buzz out of. If you take Clare in the mid-90s, I was lucky to have played with a great bunch of guys. We came out of no place and that's some feeling."

And Wexford? "I think they've proven it ... when they're on their game, when they're mentally up for it and physically at it, they'll live with anyone.

"But when we don't ... like, I thought the All-Ireland quarter-final last year against Clare, no disrespect to Clare, but we were very flat.

"If you look at us playing Kilkenny or Tipp the last day or Kilkenny in the Championship last year, physically we were right there and if you remember the Clare game, we weren't."

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