By Cian O’Connell
Seoirse Bulfin remains Davy Fitzgerald’s trusted advisor and selector, so on the eve of a third Championship involved with Wexford the passion still burns.
There is just a connection between Fitzgerald and the Wexford players, a mutual respect exists, and it is why the passionate Sixmilebridgeman is still eager to sample glory with the purple and gold.
Bulfin is enjoying the adventure alongside Fitzgerald. “Personally I was going into the unknown,” Bulfin says about his involvement with Wexford.
“Going to Leinster a few years ago, this is our third year now and I wouldn’t have a bad word to say about any of the players. We get on very well.
“You challenge each other, you test each other, but the relationships are very good and strong. It might have looked a funny match in the beginning, but it seems to have worked so far. Guys like working under Davy and Davy certainly likes taking charge of the lads.”
That the Wexford players travelled to Clare to convince Fitzgerald to stay on as manager adds another layer to the 2019 story.
“From my own point of view I’ve always said that they are great lads to work with,” Bulfin admits. “It makes the three hour drive from Limerick worthwhile when you are going to a bunch that are so committed and dedicated.
“They have fierce regard for Fitzy, they went down to him and were very adamant they wanted him to come back for another year.
“So they made their feelings known. To be fair Fitzy has a long trek, but when the lads come calling it is very hard to say no. When you get to know these lads and those guys ask you for something, it is very hard to refuse. It is always nice to be asked back.”
Challenges certainly exist with Bulfin adamant that Wexford can make further improvements in the coming weeks and months. In 2017 promotion to Division 1A of the Allianz Hurling League and a Leinster Final appearance hinted at what could be achieved.
“There was a lot of progress in the first year, maybe, and last year we consolidated maybe more than anything else,” Bulfin remarks.
“Every day you go out you’re looking to win as many games as you can. This year you’d be hoping to kick on a little bit from last year. A lot of teams were finding their feet last year with the new system and new format. You have a year of that done and everyone is better versed in how to deal with it.”
Similar to last year Wexford weren’t in action on the first weekend in Leinster which brings another dimension and an action packed schedule.
“You are spot on, the way the draw worked out we had a bye in the first round, and I definitely think it is an advantage to have a game,” Bulfin acknowledges.
“We came in very cold and Dublin had put in a tremendous performance against Kilkenny, they were just pipped at the end. To be honest we were very lucky to get out of jail against Dublin at home. We got the last couple of scores. This year we have to travel to Parnell Park seven days after they play Kilkenny which is great preparation to get in the first round.
“If you play Kilkenny that is a great first round to get. We will be under a lot of pressure to perform when you are coming in cold. It is what it is so we will just have to get on with it and deal with it.”
Trips to Parnell Park and Pearse Stadium are on the agenda for Wexford before two home matches, but Bulfin’s focus is firmly on the encounter at the Donnycarney venue this Sunday.
“It is just a quirk of the draw to be away to Dublin and Galway,” Bulfin remarks. “There will be no easy game in either Munster or Leinster. Having two away games first is definitely a challenge.
“Realistically we can’t be looking beyond the Dublin game for now because, like we said already, so many things can happen with injuries that we are looking at the Dublin game. We will re-assess after that to look at the Galway game, but two away games is a difficult ask to start with, definitely.”
The fact that four matches are imminent makes it particularly interesting according to Bulfin. “I suppose the way the League worked out for the last two years you can do a small bit of modelling of the system for the Championship,” Bulfin comments.
“The League games come in fairly quick succession so you kind of get used to it preparing for the Championship. The more games it is great and it is great to be getting these extra games in the new format. It is brilliant.”