Saturday 19 August 2017

'Ridiculous' honesty driving us forward - McDonald

Conor McDonald. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Conor McDonald. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Benjamin Franklin once said that honesty is the best policy and Conor McDonald believes this is the most important aspect which new Wexford hurling boss Davy Fitzgerald has brought to the Model fold.

Even in his wildest dreams Fitzgerald probably wouldn't have thought things would click immediately in the sunny south east but promotion to Division 1A for 2018 and a ground-breaking win over Kilkenny in Nowlan Park have set Wexford pulses racing.

As Championship preparations ramp up with a warm weather training camp in Portugal in the coming days, Bord Gáis Energy ambassador McDonald opened up on how Fitzgerald has forced the squad to open up and ask the difficult questions of each other.

"Nearly every time he speaks you get something new, and that's really refreshing. At the start of the year he would nearly just tell you how it is. That's one thing the players have as well, that this year is completely so honest," said McDonald.

"He tells you what you're good at and what you're bad at. Players tell each other what they think you could do better. I could go meet a player and say 'you know what, I don't think you're really excelling in this part of your game' and it's all for the betterment of Wexford and ourselves as a group."

The prolific Naomh Éanna attacker, who has brought his game to a new level this season, acknowledges that this "constructive criticism" can be sensitive at times but it has allowed the team to reach new heights.

Read more: 'We won't be losing the run of ourselves'

"I thought previously we were actually pretty good at it. For Irish males, you won't actually believe how open we can be. It's actually ridiculous. It really is. And the more you do it the more open you are going to be. It's crazy," he said.

"Our team-mates are all friends. Different walks of life and it is so refreshing. It feels so at ease at training to know that you can turn around to any of the lads and say something, anything, it might not even be about hurling.

"It's tough to take at times. You might think you're going well and not think you're doing anything wrong and there might be a guy there to pull you up. It just brings everyone together so much.

"There is no bad-mouthing behind people's backs or anything like that, it is just completely honest and that is the way it should be. You know where everyone stands."

While Fitzgerald serves his eight-week sideline ban for an on-field altercation with Tipperary's Jason Forde, McDonald outlines how he is "overseeing things from a distance" and that his "organisational skills clicked up another gear".

Optimism is high on Slaneyside ahead of the summer and McDonald enjoys mingling with the Wexford public and soaking up the good vibes.

"I like letting people know that we are doing what we can. When things are going well, people want to talk to you; it's nice because there has been a couple of years there when you could walk down the street and no-one wanted to talk to you!"

Irish Independent

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