Monday 21 August 2017

Lee Chin reveals how Davy Fitz pitch invasion gave him 'a little spark'

Davy Fitzgerald and Jason Forde square off in the league semi-final. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Davy Fitzgerald and Jason Forde square off in the league semi-final. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Maybe it's because he's very familiar with Davy Fitzgerald making his way onto the pitch during training matches, but Lee Chin paid no heed when the Wexford boss tangled with Tipperary's Jason Forde in the Division 1 league semi-final.

It resulted in a "harsh" eight-week ban for the fiery Fitzgerald, which will leave him in the stands for their next two championship outings, and puts Chin and Wexford in a position they've never been in before but he expects his backroom team to "pick up the pieces".

While it's not within the rules of the game for a manager to step inside the white lines, Chin admits it lit a spark under him following the frustration of conceding a second goal against Tipp and made them dig deeper.

"He kind of dealt with it for us in terms of our own frustration. When you look across and you see Davy and his passion and just the way he approaches everything, when I looked across it kind of lit a little spark in me again, just not to give up," Chin said.

"He's willing to do anything to win, we just kind of picked up from there and we didn't give up and it was proven, we went down by six points two or three times in the game and clawed it back and then on the 60-minute mark they really kicked on."

As a player, Chin sympathises with Forde's proposed two-game ban, which could see him miss their Munster SHC opener against Cork next month, and he believes the incident would have went unpunished if it happened at any stage of the game.

"For any player it's just a heated moment. It's a moment of just pure passion and just an incident that happened which was just a bit unfortunate and Jason was just the closest player to it at the time," the Faythe Harriers forward said.

"Any Tipp player would have got engaged but I do feel sorry for him. If it was me that Jason Forde hit on the field this wouldn't happen. Whatever happened in that incident was very harmless.

Wexford hurler Lee Chin, left, and Dublin footballer Philly McMahon at the launch of the John West Féile competitions in Croke Park. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Wexford hurler Lee Chin, left, and Dublin footballer Philly McMahon at the launch of the John West Féile competitions in Croke Park. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

"So I don't think anything would have happened. There probably wouldn't have been any cards, there probably wouldn't have even been a warning and the game would have been probably just let go."

Despite the scale of their ten-point Premier defeat, it was a "useful lesson", although a painful one, after a hugely encouraging spring campaign which saw them gain promotion to Division 1A for 2018.

Big things are expected come summer but, contrary to what many are predicting, Chin doesn't believe their early-season training load will come back to haunt them - "we haven't trained any harder this January than any other January" - and he hopes there's "plenty more to offer".

Chin was only three when Wexford last lifted Liam MacCarthy 21 years ago and they've suffered much at the hands of Kilkenny, their likely Leinster SHC semi-final opponents if they can negotiate the Round-Robin opponents in the last eight, in the intervening period, but the current crop don't hold the same reservations about playing hurling's aristocrats. Having defeated Kilkenny on three successive occasions years at U-21 level, and followed it up in the league semi-final in Nowlan Park earlier this month, a winning mentality has been fostered with no monkey on their back but Chin appreciates it's "a massive task" if it materialises.

"Kilkenny are not just going to lie over and let us do it to them twice in a row. But, look, we know we have to get over the first game against the Round Robin team and then get over Kilkenny if we get there," he said. "With players coming in now from those three years, a lot of them are in with us now at the moment in the senior panel and obviously they bring a lot of confidence as well in themselves. They come with a lot of confidence and they bring a winning mentality as well.

"It will have an effect when they're beating them at underage levels and coming into a senior set-up with all of those victories under their belts. It helps with that mentality that we need."

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