'Cohort in Clare will never accept Davy'
There will always be a "cohort" in Clare who will not accept Davy Fitzgerald as their senior hurling manager, no matter what success he achieves.
So says his father Pat Fitzgerald in his annual report to next week's Clare convention.
Two years ago, in the wake of their All-Ireland success, Pat Fitzgerald was scathing of his son's critics in the county and the charge of nepotism against him, as one of the county's leading officials, over the initial appointment.
And it's a topic he feels compelled to revisit again as he reflects on a season that saw Clare relegated to Division 1B, again fail to reach a Munster final and be out of action by early July for the second successive year.
The long-serving secretary has described as "disturbing" the level of abuse the players and management were subjected to on social media this year.
"There was a cohort chomping, waiting for the opportunity to go on websites and indulge in an unbalanced bashing of the team and the management," he writes.
"Nobody deserves to be pilloried by people who haven't the courage to reveal their identity and hide behind pseudonyms.
"To me, there are boundaries as regards acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and some of the postings on these sites overstepped the mark and, instead of being based on constructive criticism, were used as a means for personal attacks.
"I have to admit I was taken aback by the degree of cynicism to the appointment of Davy to the Clare job initially. Opinion was clearly divided and he had to work hard to win the cynics over. And despite the 2013 All-Ireland success, the reality is that there's a cohort that he will never win over.
"I came in for a share of criticism myself, being accused of nepotism. But, as I've stated in the past, and I will reiterate it now, Davy's appointment was based on his coaching pedigree, not on family loyalties. He was the man at the time and I believe he still remains so," he continues.
Fitzgerald has called on Clare supporters to become the 16th man in 2016 and get behind the team which has a restructured management at the helm, a development he welcomes.
"Success is never easily achieved. It needs a lot of things to fall into place and, more importantly, it needs everybody pulling in the same direction. What Clare GAA needs is not division but unity and I would appeal for that, going forward, that people would row in behind the management, be the team's '16th man' and if that scenario unfolds then the chances of success will improve."
Reflecting on performances on the playing fields in 2015 Fitzgerald admitted Clare got a dose of reality after the highs they reached with four All-Ireland titles (three U-21 and one senior) in three years.
"This year was a sobering experience. You could say it was back to reality from those heady heights and glory days," he notes.
Meanwhile, Clare GAA accountant Anthony Fitzpatrick is concerned about the amount of money being spent on inter-county team preparations and has warned that they could dip into "negative financial territory" if cutbacks aren't made.
Fitzpatrick voices his concern in a financial note attached to the accounts which shows that €657,337 was spent on teams in 2015 from an income of €1,553,295 with a small surplus of €1,362, down from €109,995 in 2014.
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