Fitzgerald still holds key to Banner's ambitions
CLARE star Domhnall O'Donovan believes that manager Davy Fitzgerald's influence is more vital than ever as the All-Ireland champions prepare for Sunday's Munster SHC semi-final against Cork at Semple Stadium.
O'Donovan insists that the Clare players require Fitzgerald's motivational skills to avoid complacency setting in following last year's landmark Liam MacCarthy Cup success.
In just Fitzgerald's second season in charge, Clare ended a 16-year wait for All-Ireland glory, but winning a Munster title is a huge goal for a county that hasn't ruled the province since 1998.
And O'Donovan, who scored the dramatic equalising point in last year's drawn All-Ireland final against Sunday's opponents, revealed: "I think it's easier when he's around to motivate us.
"It stops us getting complacent. I think I saw before in some matches, we took the foot off the pedal. He probably won't want us to admit it, but I think we need him as a motivator. He'll drive it on."
O'Donovan is based in Dublin and due to work commitments he missed out on a significant chunk of this year's Allianz League campaign.
But Fitzgerald remained in touch with the Clonlara corner-back, who revealed: "He'd ring me now and again, 'How did you think you went in training? How did you think you went in the match?'
"He does that with everyone, whether I'm in Dublin or not. He's very tuned in with the team."
And O'Donovan believes Clare will stay true to the style of play that proved so successful in 2013.
The move that culminated in O'Donovan's memorable score last September was a case in point, as Clare remained patient deep in stoppage-time, working the ball to the marauding corner-back.
O'Donovan reflected: "The most important thing for us was keeping possession and don't just hit and hope.
"If you can pick out a pass, pick out the pass. Don't just give away that ball."