Fitzgerald: give bosses a chance
EXPERIENCE has taught Davy Fitzgerald that management is one of the most difficult jobs going.
After yet another winter of discontent among county panels across the country, the role of the manager has come under ever-increasing scrutiny.
Fitzgerald was handed the Waterford job after Justin McCarthy became another victim of player-power, which has also seen management regimes fall in Wexford, Clare, Cork and Offaly.
As a player, Fitzgerald was involved in a high-profile spat towards the end of his career with then-Clare manager Tony Considine but, after a season and a half at the helm of the Deise hurlers, the Sixmilebridge clubman has a bigger appreciation for the pressures managers face in the modern game.
"I have a lot more appreciation for things now that I'm involved in this side of things," he admitted, speaking at the launch of Waterford GAA's two-year sponsorship deal with '3', believed to be worth around €100,000 per annum to the County Board.
"Maybe down the years, I could have been wrong on one or two things I did when I was playing, and judging different bits and pieces. I hold my hands up because now I realise how many things go on behind the scenes to get the team to gel and to organise different things.
"There's a lot of stuff that goes on that players don't realise and I've only seen it since I got to this level.
"There are people in the stands whose tolerance levels are not as high as maybe they were years ago. They'll see things they want to see and they'll have players they think should be playing so it's a tough place to be and there is a lot of pressure.
"Myself, I just try to block out as much as I can. I love it and I enjoy being involved, but it could have a detrimental effect on people staying in management too long.
"There are a lot of different aspects to it now. The number one target straight away is the manager, that's the way it has gone and I just hate it."
The row in Limerick between the 2009 squad and McCarthy rumbles on while Fitzgerald's native Clare also witnessed an upheaval that saw Ger 'Sparrow' O'Loughlin replace Mike McNamara, with the three-time All Star-winning goalkeeper calling on the Clare public to give 'Sparrow' a chance to build his squad.
"I'm just glad that's finally finished. I think it's important that people just stop the nonsense that is going on there, even people in the background that may have been causing a bit of trouble, just stop it," Fitzgerald continues.
"Let whoever is in there do their job. Listen, there are good players in Clare, very good talent in Clare, I'm certain of that. It is important to let Ger manage the team and the boys with him, don't be cutting them, give them a chance to do the thing.
"But the tendency in Clare over the last year or two was to have a right go at the management. Even from people that should be supporting our own down there.
"Just let Ger O'Loughlin have a right go. He has good talent to work with, give him time and I have a feeling Clare will be strong in years to come."
The GPA and GAA are expected to meet in the coming months and agree on measures aimed at preventing stand-offs similar to the one in Limerick and, in extreme circumstances, provide some form of mediation between county boards, players and management. Fitzgerald wants those measures implemented as soon as possible.
"There's wrong probably on both sides (in Limerick). Trust me, on the management side of things, you will get things wrong without a shadow of a doubt. But it's important to have dialogue and thrash things out. We don't need to go down this road of sacking managers or stupid things like that. We are an amateur game and that's a fact.
"From a management point of view, I never envisaged the time that goes into this job until I took this role on and it's absolutely crazy.
"There's always two points of view and I think we have to find a happy medium and stop the nonsense. Certainly take on board the views of players. I would have no problem with that, that is very important.
"But there has to be someone there that's independent to say 'the management are out of line' or 'the players are out of line' or whatever the story is."