Temperatures will be running high once again this weekend with so much on the line in games around the country, but which managers/teams are facing the most pressure?
Davy Fitzgerald (Waterford)
There is no doubting Davy Fitzgerald’s managerial CV with two Fitzgibbon Cups (LIT in 2005 and ’07), a Munster title (Waterford in 2010), an All-Ireland SHC title (Clare in 2013), a Division 1 League title (Clare in ’16) and a Leinster title (Wexford in ’19) under his belt.
He is one of the game’s most successful managers but he faces one of his biggest challenges yet heading into Waterford’s Munster SHC clash with Tipperary in Semple Stadium this Sunday.
On paper, it’s a dead rubber for the Déise given that their chance of qualification was gone after their comprehensive loss to Clare but there is everything to play for for Fitzgerald.
That defeat to the Banner, combined with a harrowing loss to Cork in round two, has meant that the knives are out for Fitzgerald with Waterford legends like Ken McGrath and Eoin Kelly questioning his position.
“Last year, we were the second-best team in the country and now we’re down at Joe McDonagh standard. And that’s the reality of it,” McGrath told WLR FM after the Clare game.
“If that was a Waterford man standing on the line, would he last a year? He didn’t last it four years ago when there was a Waterford man (Páraic Fanning) standing on the line so would he last it this year?
“In my opinion, he wouldn’t. I’ll back it up by saying what I feel and there’s nothing wrong with that, you have to be straight up and that’s the way sport is because we all care for Waterford and we’re in a mess.”
Fitzgerald has already spoken of his plans for next year and beyond but Sunday’s performance could go a long way to deciding whether or not he is the one steering the Waterford ship in 2024.
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