Ephie Fitzgerald claims that some Waterford clubs have no interest in promoting football in the county.
The Cork man stepped down as Déise senior boss last weekend after two years in charge. "In terms of the hurling clubs, I don't think there's any goodwill towards football to be honest about it," he told WLR's Lár Na Páirce show. "That's being brutally frank about it. Waterford are perceived to be a hurling county but two All Irelands in 130 years isn't a great return. There are fabulous footballers but everybody wants to be a hurler as far as I can see. If you don't make it in hurling then you might play football and that's kind of sad. If you had 30 odd fellas committed to hurling, fine, but there's another 50 or 60 that are hoping they get called onto the panel and some of them would be quite good footballers. The real problem goes back to primary school level. If you want to make a real impact, you have to start back there and try and build and give everybody positive experiences."
He fears that Waterford may not field a team at senior level in the coming years. "Maybe, they'll just focus on hurling full stop, I don't know. The immediate future doesn't look very bright to be honest about it. It's actually very worrying if you're really interested in football in the county."
Fitzgerald found it difficult to leave the position. "I gave it a lot of deliberation over the summer. There were a number of factors. Some of the guys were going travelling and we had a tight enough panel as it was. There was definitely improvement in the two years even though results didn't reflect that. We were always competitive. I got new lenses in my eyes as well and it's not conducive to long driving and I was very busy at home as well. Sad to leave, it was a great experience. The first training session we had, there were eight guys at it. We tried to build on that and make ourselves as competitive and as organised as we could be and I think we did that. You need everybody on board and if fellas are going travelling, it makes it doubly difficult to continue. The ethos in Waterford is hurling and it's becoming more difficult and more difficult to get guys to commit to football. That will be a real problem going forward for the county."
He was full of praise for the players who answered the call and pulled on the Waterford jersey. "Absolutely fabulous. They gave us everything, the guys that committed. To work with them was a joy. I loved going to training every night. We knew we weren't anywhere near the best but we wanted to get the best out of ourselves. Anything we asked them to do, they did. We were behind the eight ball all the time in terms of trying to get fellas to commit but the ones that did, were absolutely fabulous."
Listen back to the full interview with Ephie Fitzgerald from Friday's Lár Na Páirce show.