Monday 18 November 2019

Davy: 'We don't lack ambition'

Wexford boss ramps up his defence of sweeper system

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald has launched another impassioned defence of the sweeper system in hurling, hitting out at any suggestions that it represents a lack of ambition.

After tackling the topic head on after Wexford's All-Ireland quarter-final defeat, Fitzgerald pointed to his record as a manager using the much-maligned system that is also favoured by Waterford.

Fitzgerald was annoyed by comments made by hurling analysts and former players Michael Duignan and Henry Shefflin in particular, who have been vocal in their opposition to the deployment of sweepers and contend that an All-Ireland can't be won this way.

Fitzgerald, however, pointed out that it already happened four years ago.

"The likes of Clare have only won four All-Irelands. We used a sweeper to win an All-Ireland (2013) and a national league (2016) and we have only won three or four national leagues in our history," he said in an interview with Newstalk's 'Off The Ball'.

"Wexford were waiting years to get out of Division 1B of the league. It showed some ambition to take on Limerick and Galway and beat them. We beat Kilkenny with it. I believe 100 per cent you can win with it.

"You have to do what you have to do in order to give yourself chance," he added.

"I have trained various club teams and some of them have never won anything. They would play anything to have a bit of success. It has worked for various club teams I have been with. I know one team who never won an intermediate in their history and we won it by doing something different. If I asked them to go 15 v 15 or do something that could help them win, what do you think they would choose?

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"People saying it's not the same as it was... everything moves on. There were scores on Sunday that were incredible. Some teams are afraid of change. My job is to make the team competitive and give them a chance of winning. Maybe if you're from Kilkenny it might be different."

Fitzgerald also challenged Duignan to get involved with Offaly, who currently have a vacancy, and put his plan in place.

"It's a different thing when you have to get out on that sideline and make decisions for 30 of a panel to get the best of them and give them a chance of being successful."

Fitzgerald said players had far more choice to express themselves than what the perception was and encouraged Waterford manager Derek McGrath to "stick to his guns" for the semi-final against Cork after taking a more conventional approach in the Munster semi-final, which they lost to the Rebels by five points.

He said all the big teams play defensive systems that involve bringing more players back to defend.



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