Wednesday 20 September 2017

Davy Fitz's father lashes cynics over 'nepotism' jibe

Clare secretary finally feels vindicated following son's All-Ireland triumph

Pat Fitzgerald in the dugout as son Davy paces the sideline at Semple Stadium. STEPHEN McCARTHY / SPORTSFILE
Pat Fitzgerald in the dugout as son Davy paces the sideline at Semple Stadium. STEPHEN McCARTHY / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Clare County Board secretary Pat Fitzgerald has used his report to their annual convention to recall how he was "taken aback" by accusations of "nepotism" when his son Davy was appointed as Banner hurling manager two years ago.

Fitzgerald was appointed for three years in October 2011 -- a term that has since been extended by a further three years on the back of this year's unexpected All-Ireland success.

From that position of strength, Pat Fitzgerald has snow ought to set the record straight and to emphasise how Davy's appointment was based on his coaching ability, not any family link, and stresses that Clare's September victory "vindicated" the appointment.

Fitzgerald says he is a "fair and honest man" and he affirms that Davy receives no preferential treatment from the county board when it comes to team preparations. Davy was not challenged for the position when it became vacant after Ger O'Loughlin's decision to step down.

CRITICISM

"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," says his father in the report.

"I came in for a share of criticism, being accused of nepotism, matching the cronyism that has dogged the Irish political system over the years. But such an assertion couldn't have been further from the truth -- Davy's appointment was based on his coaching pedigree.

"I was subjected to a lot of stick, but I stuck to my guns and I think I've been fully vindicated. It wasn't a case of giving a job to my son. It was a case of giving the job to a man who deserved to have a crack at it. He had a proven track-record and was entitled to take his chances.

"I want to nail once and for all the perception that he is getting preferential treatment as regards team preparations. Not true, it has never been the case. People know me as a fair and honest man. Those attitudes came into play with the appointment."

Fitzgerald Snr hails the double All-Ireland success -- senior and U-21 --and pays tribute to the "tactical intellect" of Davy and the "hard work" by Donal Moloney and Gerry O'Connor.

"What a season -- two All-Ireland titles in a year that truly surpassed all expectations. Undoubtedly, Clare hurling is riding the crest of wave at the minute and a group of players, blessed with pace, panache and no inhibitions emerged and have been moulded into a winning combination," he writes.

"Just two years into his reign, David Fitzgerald has brought the players to the summit sooner than expected. Undoubtedly he is working with an extremely talented bunch of players, but I think he has brought a new dimension and professionalism to the set-up. His tactical intellect was also crucial to the team's success."

Naturally, the cost of success increased with team preparations for 2013, rising substantially to €913,919 from €671,570 last year. But Clare GAA still turned a profit, with income amounting to €1,796,854, realising a surplus of €59,289 from expenditure of €1,737,565.

Big hikes in the spend on travel expenses and catering are attributed to the longer season, with over €324k spent on travel and almost €200k spent on catering. The provision of €100,000 for a team holiday is also included.

Gate receipts are down in the county by over €100,000, but the senior finals are not included in this figure as they were completed in November, outside the financial year being audited.

The secretary admits that he sounds like a "broken record" on the subject of fixtures, but after a year when Clare were the last to complete their senior football and hurling championships, he feels it's time to set their master fixtures "in stone".

"Our fixtures are becoming too flexible," he writes. "No obstacles should be placed in the way of possible All-Ireland glory, but the club players can't be held to ransom either.

"The games are being pushed out further and further into a time of year when weather conditions are totally unfavourable and that has to stop.

"This year Clare was the last of the counties to hold its club hurling and football finals. And participation in the Munster club was only sanctioned after dispensation was given by Munster Council."

Irish Independent

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