Boss praises 'super-human effort' but lashes referee
Davy Fitzgerald lashed out at the officiating after Wexford lost out on a place in the provincial final by one point to a stunning Kilkenny comeback in their final round robin Senior hurling championship game played before a 17,516 crowd in Nowlan Park on Saturday.
Wexford dominated this game for 40 minutes, holding a seven-point interval lead which they increased to nine in the opening five minutes of the second-half.
However, what Fitzgerald had been warning about before the championship even commenced became a reality as the playing of four games within the space of 21 days struck the Wexford players.
Their legs gave way in the following 20 minutes as they were unable to cope with the physical demands placed on them, given such a demanding fixtures schedule.
And while the Cats are alive and kicking, Fitzgerald still found time to praise his players, describing their display during that 40 minutes as 'phenomenal'
He also claimed they were hampered by some of the decision-making of referee James McGrath from Westmeath.
Afterwards, Fitzgerald was clearly irate that Wexford's cause wasn't helped by some decisions that went against his team.
'That's not right, I think I'm wasting my time in this job. I am not going to say why, but I am wasting my time. Just go back and look at it. Fair play to Kilkenny and they fought back hard. I really admire their style.
'There's frees given in one half and they're not given as easy in the other half. I love the way Kilkenny play but we might as well waste our time if it's not one hundred per cent across the board.
'That's being totally honest. They disallowed Paul Morris one. Fine. After he getting thumped himself. That's grand. Disallowed a point after he getting thumped and reacting back. Disappointment doesn't come into it.
'I knew we were going to fade. For us to get what we got out of it, that was a super-human effort. Four weeks is tough going. I think if we had a week's break, trust me, we would have finished the game a lot stronger. Because we are as fit as anyone in the country,' he added.
'I thought we should have been up ten or eleven points in the first-half. I thought there was only one team in it. I said to the boys in the second-half, "the only thing that is going to catch us here, have we the energy to keep going?" I said it to the boys on the sideline.'
Fine margins win or lose games, but Fitzgerald was insistent that his side is not getting a fair deal.
'We received one free inside the Kilkenny '45, compare that to them (Kilkenny), while in two and a half hours' hurling we have received four.
'Against Dublin we were lucky to get out of it, against Galway you could cite different things, frees along with the many times they were throwing the ball instead of handpassing in tight situations, but Galway were the better team.
'How can we win tight games getting no frees inside the opposition '45? We are not getting the frees the same as the other sides. Kilkenny frees were all inside the '45. The facts stand up for themselves.
'The standard of refereeing is terrible, but I'm so proud of the lads. The performance they gave through that opening 40 minutes was the best hurling I've seen from a Wexford side for many years, but we surely deserve frees inside the opposing '45.
'We play an exciting brand of hurling, which is attractive to watch and great for the game, but some of the frees in this game were unbelievable decision.
Fitzgerald must wait to see who his preliminary quarter-final opponents will be, as it will be either Carlow or Westmeath from the Joe McDonagh Cup, with the game scheduled for on July 7/8.
'I am looking forward to the next phase of the championship. Hopefully we will have a huge impact,' added Fitzgerald, whose squad will return to training over the weekend in preparation for the knockout stages.
Meanwhile, Wexford Senior footballers made their exit from the championship when they were shocked by Waterford before a sparse attendance at Innovate Wexford Park earlier on Saturday.
With the Minor footballers also eliminated from the championship, following hugely disappointing performances, it will take a miracle for the Under-20 footballers to maintain an interest when they play Dublin in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday (2 p.m.), especially as Senior trio Eoin Porter, Martin and Barry O'Connor are ineligible. Wexford need a victory while they will also look to Longford defeating Westmeath to get through to the knockout phase.