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'We shouldn't put any pressure on any player' – Wexford boss Davy Fitzgerald on Covid-19 worries for squads

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Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald

Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald

Wexford hurling manager Davy Fitzgerald

Davy Fitzgerald will put his underlying health conditions to one side to man the line later this year but the Wexford hurling boss understands that some players may choose to opt out given the risks involved amid Covid-19.

The GAA's return to play roadmap was announced last Friday with inter-county training to return in September, followed by championship action the following month and Fitzgerald is keen to be reacquainted with the reigning Leinster champions.

Fitzgerald has had several well-documented health problems in recent years, however, and the 48-year-old realises that he must make some changes to continue safely in his managerial role.

"I have a few stints in. It would cross your mind having an underlying health condition but it's my choice going forward and what I want to do and certainly if the time is right, I'm ready to go out and be in the field and do whatever," Fitzgerald said on The Sunday Game.

"Will I look at things a small bit different about how I will do things? Probably yeah. As regards keeping to the guidelines that are there, I'm certainly a lot more aware of things and I will do that. But I am one of those people that probably wants to get back out and do stuff but sensibly.

"It possibly is (my heart ruling my head) but that way that I look at it is, if there's no vaccine in the next 12, 18 or 24 months, what are we going to do? I've just decided myself personally that I'd like to go this route. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, which is very important, and that's just the way that I have decided I'd like to be."

The former Clare star, who guided his native county to All-Ireland SHC success in 2013, is also well aware that some players may choose to opt out given the health concerns around the Coronavirus and he feels that they cannot be pressurised into participating.

"No way do I believe that we should put any pressure on any player. If they feel it's okay to come back, good. If they feel they're worried about someone at home, the probably have two options, one is they're going to have to give it a miss and exercise on their own," he said.

"Two is they'll probably move in with one of their friends because they just don't want to be in contact for the number of weeks that the sport and games are going to take place, they're probably the options and I think it's important that we don't put pressure on or don't look badly on them. Like myself, everybody has to make the decision for themselves and for their family what they feel is best."

Given that many Wexford stars like joint-captains Matt O'Hanlon and Lee Chin are expected to play both codes for their club when action resumes during the summer, the Model boss knows that county preparations will be very tight.

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While bringing Liam MacCarthy back to Wexford for the first time since 1996 is still the goal, Fitzgerald admits that just getting back in action is a success for the GAA as a whole given that many had written off 2020.

"They're saying mid-September (for counties to return to training) and it'll be very hard because if you have hurling and football in a county and you're starting in August, it's going to be very hard to get the two of them played off and you will have x amount of dual players," he said.

"Even by mid-September, you'll probably still be down x amount of players so the logistics will be tough. But we're just going to have to deal with it and whatever comes. To me, this year isn't about winning All-Irelands. Listen, I'd love to win one with Wexford, I'd love to win a club with Sixmilebridge (who he coaches) but it's about getting out and being able to participate.

"I've one big word in life, which is hope. In fairness, the government have done a really great job to give that bit of hope and to see restrictions being lifted even earlier than was announced is even better again. It's great and it makes the soul feel good."


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