Comment on Fitzgerald unfair and unwarranted

Sir, As a proud Kerry GAA supporter, fortunate to live in Clare for some years, I was appalled by the unpleasant and unbalanced article published in your Sports section on March 12 about the Clare Senior Hurling Manager Davy Fitzgerald (pictured). It appeared under the line "Back Chat", an appropriate title, given its tone and content.

The article referred to a speech given by Mr. Fitzgerald at Limerick Institute of Technology. However the writer, Mr. Brennan, admits not having listened to the speech in its entirety. (It was widely available online). A strange omission, as he then proceeds to draw a pretty damming conclusion about part of the speech. Apparently Mr. Fitzgerald, while "well intentioned" in raising issues of drug and alcohol use among some GAA players, "could appear" to have used the speech to have "a dig at some of those Clare hurlers". There can be no other good reason for the Clareman to mention these issues, according to the article, other than to satisfy some kind of personal agenda.

A more rational explanation, which may have eluded your writer, could be that Mr. Fitzgerald was using his public profile as a successful GAA manager to raise awareness and promote discussion on the subject of drug and alcohol use among young people and among society at large. Surely this is a good thing in a country where silence on such issues has ill-served us in the past?

Many GAA players and managers address similar gatherings to the one held at LIT, on subjects like bereavement, gambling addiction, depression, stress, racism and the need for tolerance and respect for all, regardless of sexual orientation. Mickey Harte, the Cusack brothers, Sean Og O hAilpin, Oisin McConville, Dessie Farrell and others are rightly lauded for shining a light on these important issues in contemporary society. Never once in the pages of your paper have I read of anyone questioning their motives. Yet when Davy Fitzgerald does something similar in his speech, it is suggested that he can have no greater motive than his own selfishiness or need to settle old scores with past players. Why this double standard, I wonder?

The tone of your article and pictures seek to portray the Clare manager as some kind of egocentric, narcissistic and selfish individual with very little to recommed him other than that old patronising cliché, "his love of the game". Yes of course, he repeatedly watches recordings of Clare's matches. That is what managers do at this level. Of course, he is perfectly entitled to remark on the amount of footage which he observes showing him on the sideline. Why not? I'm sure there may be other GAA managers who are none too pleased with their portrayal on TV on match day but do not publicly comment or wait until they retire to do so. Is any sports person who speaks out when they feel unfairly portrayed now fair game to be made fun of and portrayed as some kind of bizarre obsessive? If so, why? Are TV companies now above reproach, like some new kind of hierarchy? Your suggestion that Mr. Fitzgerald's comments show ignorance of how media works is both condescending and unfair.

Davy Fitzgerald and many, many others have worked hard to bring Clare hurling to its present level of success after many years in the wilderness. They deserve great credit for the style, sportmanship and skill with which their teams have graced the playing fields over the past few years. With the challenges facing our senior football team and the poverty of our underage record for the last 20 years, we in Kerry could learn a lot from how Clare do their business. Instead, it is deemed acceptable for a so called "respectable" newspaper to ridicule and belittle their manager in a manner one might expect from the worst of the tabloid press. If those are the standards you now aspire to in The Kerryman, then it is indeed a sad day for journalism in Kerry.


Julie Brosnan



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