Waterford football benefits from Fitzgerald’s ‘Cork arrogance’

Conor Murray admits new Waterford football manager Ephie Fitzgerald is trying to replace a “loser mentality” in the group with a bit of his own “Cork arrogance”.

Murray captained Waterford last year and will be part of the Deise group who face Wicklow in Saturday’s first Tailteann Cup game, a preliminary round tie at Aughrim.

GAA President Liam McCarthy cited Waterford as an example of a county that can take the new competition “by the scruff” and potentially string multiple wins together.

Murray is also hopeful but says they need to shed any inferiority complexes and reach their full potential to progress.

“We tend to feel a little sorry for ourselves at Waterford,” said the attacker. “It’s something he (Fitzgerald) is trying to get rid of. He’s trying to get rid of that loser mentality. When things start to go wrong, we tend to give up and go back to type.

“He’s trying to make us a bit steely, I suppose a bit of his Cork arrogance. He’s trying to pass some of that on to us.

Murray is in his eighth season as an inter-county player and says part of the problem with Waterford football is that others have not been as committed or keen to stay.

“That’s the big problem we’ve had in recent years, player turnover,” said the Rathgormack man. “It was really hard to keep the same squad together. Every year you are back at the beginning of the year. When Ephie came in earlier this year, he and Peter (Leahy) made it very clear that this isn’t a one-year job, it’s a two- or three-year process. So if it doesn’t work out against Wicklow next weekend, that’s fine, we’ll go back and start building up for next year right away.

Murray believes Munster SFC finalists Limerick have set a template for incremental improvement that his own county may be able to follow.

“They’ve had the same selection of players there for the last six years,” he said of the Shannonsiders. “Almost every single one of their starters was there for five or six years and now they’re in Division 2. You can’t progress if you don’t have the same players there year after year. Otherwise it’s you back to square one with tactics and all that.”

Waterford finished bottom of Division 4 by just a point and were beaten by Tipperary in the Munster Championship so are still chasing that first win of 2022. “There’s four or five of us that in the last seven or been there for eight years. ‘ Murray said. “If you don’t have the attitude, you won’t stick with it. If you’re trying to win something there, you’re in the wrong business. It depends on the mindset and the attitude. If you have it, hi, it’s worth it.”

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