'Davy has to stay, full stop' - Brendan Cummins calls on Wexford to 'move heaven and earth' to keep Fitzgerald
For nearly 70 minutes, the dream was still on for Davy Fitzgerald and Wexford.
When Lee Chin pointed a free in the 69th minute, the Model were back one ahead of Tipperary with six minutes of stoppage time to navigate. It’s already a matter of record that navigating it proved a bridge too far and a clearly emotional Fitzgerald cast doubt on his future afterwards, stating "Whether I can do it again, I don't know. I don't want to think about it for a while. I think I just need to stop. It's been 18 years playing and 12 or 13 with no breather."
Yet while former Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins was delighted to see his successors set up a repeat of the 2009 and 2010 Liam Sheedy v Brian Cody battles he played in, he believes that the bond Fitzgerald enjoys with this group of players should make the decision easier for him.
"Davy has to stay, full stop. They need to move heaven and earth down in Wexford to keep him and I think he will," Cummins told The Throw-In, Independent.ie’s podcast in association with Bord Gais Energy.
"He’s got a great relationship with those players down there. He’s a father-like figure to them. I don't see him going anywhere.
"This year, the big turning point with him in the Wexford project was when they played in Salthill. They went behind, Davy was put up into the stands and the players responded. As a manager, you know it’s time to go if you go two or three points down and the players let go of the rope. Then you say to yourself, ‘That’s it, They’ve downed tools on me, they don't believe in me.’
"But these players would go through a brick wall for Davy. They’ll be hurting so much this morning, not because they lost yesterday for themselves, they’ll be hurting because Davy lost yesterday."
Cummins had made headlines at The Throw-in Live in Gorey last week with an almost evangelical tribute to the work Fitzgerlad puts into helping his players and he touched on the subject again today.
He remains convinced that the special relationship the Wexford manager has with his squad, added to their experience this year, could be what make them a good bet to make the final step in 2020.
"He does a lot for them behind the scenes. He’s a fantastic manager, a great man," Cummins added.
"You can’t get away from the fact that Davy loves the players, he does everything he can to help them on and off the field.
"I just hope that he stays with Wexford next year. They still have a lot to build on based on the experience of coming down the home straight in an All-Ireland semi. It’d be a terror to throw away that experience with a big change now."