Wexford's unbreakable bond with Davy Fitzgerald key in our Leinster victory: Diarmuid O'Keeffe
WEXFORD midfielder Diarmuid O’Keeffe says the bond between the players and manager Davy Fitzgerald was one of the rocks their first Leinster title success since 2004 was built upon following Sunday’s narrow victory over Kilkenny.
The 27-year-old St Anne’s Rathangan clubman stitched together superb back-to-back Championship performances against the Cats over the last fortnight, scoring four from play in their round robin clash in Wexford Park and grabbing a point in each half of their three-point Leinster final win at Croke last weekend.
Joint captain Matthew O’Hanlon paid tribute to Fitzgerald in his victory speech and it was something O’Keeffe picked up on afterwards.
“Matt said something exceptionally accurate in the speech - he said that he [Fitzgerald] would do anything for us, he would die for us, and believe it or not, we would do the same for him,” said O’Keeffe.
“There’s a bond there between this group of players that we haven’t had with any other manager and look it’s great, he brings a lot to it: energy, passion, but he’s organised and communication is top notch. We couldn’t fault him in any way.
“We absolutely hold him in the highest regard. Can I say that there’s one thing? No, a manager of his calibre - there can’t be just one thing; he brings so many different elements. You know, some of the lads, he gives it to them when it needs to be given and other lads, he’d put the around him so to speak.”
O’Keeffe also name-checked former Wexford manager and local legend Liam Dunne for his contribution to Sunday’s Leinster triumph.
“A lot of the lads started with Liam Dunne back in 2012 and in fairness to Liam, he brought us a hell of a long way in the five years that we had him.
“He completely changed the culture that was in the Wexford dressing room. Davy has obviously brought it on another step again but between the two lads they’ve done Trojan work.”
O’Keeffe, who must be in line for an Allstar gong at end of this year, doesn’t want Wexford to be happy with just a Leinster title this summer.
To date, there are eight teams left in the All-Ireland series with big hitters Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Dublin still hoping to join provincial winners Wexford and Limerick in the semi-finals.
“It’s been 2004 since Bob O’Keeffe (Cup) has been in Wexford so we’ll enjoy it. Tuesday night we’ll get back at it again. The year’s not over though - we’re not happy to just finish up here. I don’t think there’s any player in that dressing room who has got to hurl in the month of August so that’s massive, they’re all looking forward to it.”