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Davy Fitzgerald and Waterford aiming to end unwanted Munster record

Déise have yet to progress to the All-Ireland SHC through the provincial round-robin system

This is the time of the season when everything tends to crank up in Davy Fitzgerald’s orbit, from the rumour mill to the hurling factory.

For Waterford though, it has become the time of the year when they pack up the tent and prepare to tuck the hurls away long before high summer. After 16 Munster round-robin games since the inception of the new format in 2018 (it reverted to knockout for the covid impacted seasons of 2020-21), Waterford have managed to win only two matches.

They beat Tipperary in 2022 and 2023, while they also drew with the Premier County in 2018. The other 13 fixtures were all lost. Waterford have yet to make the All-Ireland series via the round-robin system.

And their league form this term hasn’t exactly got Déise supporters brimming with confidence in advance of Sunday’s Munster opener against Cork at Walsh Park. Having picked up just one win – over Offaly – in the 2024 league, Fitzgerald knows he only has a couple of weeks left to salvage something from his second term as Waterford manager.


“I got a text the other day, ‘I heard you’re fighting with this lad and that lad’. What can you do only laugh at it,” says Fitzgerald. “I can’t do anything else, if people want to make up rumours, that’s fine, I’ve accepted that a long time ago.

“We haven’t been far away and we’ve blooded over 30 players in the league, I’m happy with that. Can I stop the rumours? No, I can’t. If we win on April 21st or May 5th, do you think those rumours will count for much? That’s the way I look at it. If we lose, they’ll nail me no matter what the story is. I don’t really mind, I can’t do anything about it.”

The consequences of losing your first game in the Munster SHC can be detrimental to a team’s aspirations of finishing in one of the coveted top three spots. Waterford have lost three of the four openers in the round-robin format. They’ve never grabbed one of the top three positions.

Cork boss Pat Ryan has already said the Rebels are targeting the Waterford game this weekend to try get their provincial championship off to a winning start.

“I’m glad Pat said that his whole world revolves around it because that makes two of us, so does ours,” adds Fitzgerald. “Don’t have any doubt about that. We’re in our home patch as well, we’ve got to take pride in where we’re playing and what we’re doing.

“This game is everything. Pat Ryan is right, this game is everything and it’s on. Let’s bring it. Let’s bring it for both teams and see where we go.”

When the sides met at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in February, Cork ran out 1-21 to 1-19 winners. In typically roguish fashion, after that encounter Fitzgerald did his very best to hoist Cork upon a pedestal by saying they were one of the best teams in the country. So, what about them now?

“They’re even better since then,” he replies, without breaking stride.

“It’s going to be a big ask, the question is, what did we learn about them and what have we learned from last year. Cork are a top class side. The talent they have available is large.

“They have serious talent, from under-20 winners and underage. But we know what’s coming, we know the pace they have in their side and what we’ll get from their attacking third. It’s up to us to work as hard as we can to be ready for that.

“I’m as excited as I’ve ever been about a game. Would it be a fair achievement for us to get out of Munster and be competing? I’ll answer that question for you afterwards, I’ll tell you afterwards.”

You already know the answer.

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times