Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Davy Fitzgerald after the game in Thurles on Saturday night. Photo: Inpho.

Allianz NHL: Tipperary v Waterford: Reaction: Davy Fitzgerald

Waterford boss Davy Fitzgerald spoke to his players in the dressing room before he performed his media duties at around half nine on Saturday night. He felt that a ten-point loss was harsh on his side.

“We ended up getting beaten by ten but I don’t think we backed down. I thought we rose to the challenge for a lot of that. I know Liam will be looking forward to later in the year and so will we. I’m telling you now, those guys are fighters. They won’t give in. I’m telling you that straight out. We might have been beaten by those extra points at very end but we were right there for 20 or 25 minutes of that second half. We were right there. Just a bit of discipline, it’s something that we have to sort out. I have to say that the support tonight was very decent from the far side. When we got right into it, they were right behind us. Please God more to come. The only thing is playing Kilkenny next week we’ll be down five or six starters for definite.”
The red card to Jamie Barron was a game changer. Tipperary outscored Fitzgerald’s charges 2-7 to 0-6 after that. “I thought we played very well in patches; I thought it was entertaining in different patches. The only thing I didn’t like doing was giving up a few goals. I thought when we changed our shape in the second half, it worked big time for us. The sending off? A killer, a killer. We were right back in control. My honest opinion of that goal (Tipperary’s second goal) was I thought it was a push on Tadhg. Tadhg thought it was a push on him as well. Those small things change games like. I felt that. Maybe Jamie reacted badly after that because they got the ball in the back of the net. I thought we did really well for the first 20 minutes of the second-half. After the sending off, they took control again.”
Fitzgerald had no arguments with the dismissal but he did take issue with other decisions from James Owens. “I don’t think we can have complaints about the red card. He reacted, that’s fine, a reaction is a reaction so we’ll have to take our medicine on that. Seamus Kennedy made a high tackle and got a tick. If there’s a high tackle, I think it’s a small bit more than a tick. All we want to see is the same across the line, that everyone is treated the same way. In fairness, Tipp were the better team tonight but I saw patches from our team that are really encouraging.”

Waterford created six goal chances on Saturday night but took none of them. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that we should have hit the net a few times tonight. We had a few goal chances if you really go back and look at them, between the first half and the second half. There was a few there. The difference is Tipp finished theirs and we didn’t finish ours. Tipp are a really good team. Tipp are going to cause some trouble in that championship I tell you. They’re going to be really hard to beat so they are. We’ll have a bit of work to get ready for them the next day.”
At the other end, Tipperary also engineered six opportunities for green flags. “They got three goals in the second half. I do think one was a push and the other two came as a result of the way our shape was. They got two of them after Jamie went off. They looked like scoring more goals in the first half with the way I was set up. That was on me, the way I set it up. For a reason. Everyone loves a straight out six backs, maybe some teams it just doesn’t suit them. I think you could see that we were pretty open in the first half. Maybe certain teams are just not suited to playing a particular way.”

Waterford will go to Nowlan Park with all guns blazing on Sunday. “If we win it, we’ll be in the semi-final I’d say. I’ll be trying to win it. What team I’ll have out on the field will be the strongest team. Any of my first team, that aren’t injured, will be going out. Stephen Bennett will start again next week, he was only meant to play 55 minutes tonight. Colin Dunford was only meant to play 55 to 60. They probably went over their limit. Tonight, I was delighted with Tadhg. That’s Tadhg’s first game I’d say since last August or September. For him to read the game the way he did, I’m extremely proud of him. To come back in after months out, that takes a lot. Fair play to him.”

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