‘I had 100% made up my mind to walk away’ from Wexford – Fitzgerald

DAVY FITZGERALD SAYS he was ready to step away as manager of the Wexford hurlers before receiving an important call and message which helped him change his mind.

The Clare native, who guided Wexford to a Leinster SHC in 2019, told Midwest Sport this week that he was “torn” about his future with the team due to difficulties with the long commute from his home in Sixmilebridge.

Fitzgerald has since agreed to stay on for another two seasons as manager after originally being appointed in 2017, but speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he admitted that he was ready to leave.

“Probably last Monday or Tuesday, I had 100% made up my mind to walk away,” said Fitzgerald in conversation with Damien O’Meara.

I got a call on probably Wednesday night and got a message from someone else. It probably changed my mind again.

“I have an incredible bond with the lads and I’m just going to go with my gut and just do this.”

Davy Fitzgerald with Tipperary boss Liam Sheedy after the All-Ireland semi-final.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Fitzgerald also said that he initially told county chairman Derek Kent that he “couldn’t do it anymore” but was advised to take some more time to consider his decision.

After processing all the factors involved, the 48-year-old decided it was too difficult to walk away.

“I’ve a few weeks of a lot of soul-searching done, and I think people appreciate if you’re leaving home at 1.30 or 2pm and getting back at one o’clock at night, that’s a major factor.

There were two or three personal issues in the middle of that. It’s just made the last couple of weeks very difficult. It was a really hard decision, it took a lot of time. I did say to the Wexford chairman straight after the [Tipperary] game that I just couldn’t do it anymore.

“He asked me to take a few weeks more to think about it, and I did that. I suppose at the end of the day, it’s very hard to walk away.”

Fitzgerald’s name was heavily linked with the vacant managerial position in Galway in recent days, with many suspecting that the delay in his decision about Wexford paved the way for him to take up the appointment.

When asked if he had been in contact with any county boards about taking up a potential management position, Fitzgerald replied:

“They didn’t.

“It’s gas. I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff alright. Naturally you have a few friends ringing you from different places and saying stuff to you.

“At the end of the day, I made my decision Thursday night and that’s it.”

Wexford players celebrating their Leinster SHC success.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Wexford enjoyed a progressive season under Fitzgerald in 2019.

They captured their first Leinster SHC crown in 15 years while also falling just short of reaching a first All-Ireland final since 1996 following a thrilling semi-final clash with eventual champions Tipperary.

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Fitzgerald however, cautioned that it will be difficult to repeat those feats again next year.

“I think there’s massive potential there without a shadow of a doubt. But the decision was probably made around people [and] a few different things as I said.

“I honestly think it’s going to be difficult enough and I knew [that] you were going to have to look at one or two years going forward. I believe after a year like that it gets flat the next year so there’s a chance of that, so you’re looking at two years again to try and reach them heights.

It can be tough to go back again after reaching those heights but we’re back there now and we’ll give it everything.

“The people and supporters down there are unbelievable. I haven’t felt like that and been made feel so welcome in a long time. Everything weighed up into that decision.”

– Originally published at 10.16

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