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Saturday 23 June 2018

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Alan Brogan: I didn't see other managers lashing out with the same apoplectic, almost comical rage as Davy Fitz

Managers need to keep a calm head instead of sideline ranting

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald

Alan Brogan

MAYBE it’s a hurling thing that I don’t get. Or maybe it’s just Davy Fitz. Either way, I must say I was a bit startled by what I saw on television last Sunday with about 15 minutes to go in Thurles .

Clare were in all sorts of trouble and the cameras panned to Davy and there he was, going ballistic on the line.

The source of his ire or the target or his fury were irrelevant.

There and then, as their season trundled towards disaster, Clare needed a cool head.

Davy definitely wasn’t it. He’d gone into orbit.

Look at Jim Gavin, Éamonn Fitzmaurice, Mickey Harte – even Liam Kearns, Colm Collins, they’re all either very calm on the line or do a good job of pretending to be.

Very astute - studious even. Taking it all in and exuding quiet leadership.

As I say, maybe football is a little different. But I don’t think so.


I didn’t see any of the other three managers in Thurles on Sunday at the same sort of craic as Davy, despite the pressure they were all under.

Mícheál Donohue faced a long, unsatisfactory winter with a group of players branded “gutless” by Ger Loughnane if they lost that match.

Derek McGrath’s entire 18-month project was at risk in the first game where Liam Dunne probably saw four years of hard work go up in smoke.

I didn’t see any of them lashing out with the same apoplectic, almost comical rage.

It sounds like Davy intends to stay on for another year and if so, I genuinely think it’s something that he and Clare need to look at because I don’t think it’s doing them any favours with that sort of behaviour.

It’s stranger again with Donal Óg Cusack there. He strikes me as a cool customer, very analytical and methodical.

That he hasn’t managed to convince Davy of the benefits of keeping a clearer head or impress upon him the pointlessness of turning the air over the Clare dugout blue, seems odds.

What’s the point of it all?

To convey a message of urgency to the players?

Listen, if your men need reminding to get stuck in or a giddying up in the middle of a big Championship match like last Sunday’s, there’s no amount of effing and blinding that’s going to make any great difference to the result.

To demonstrate passion?

Football, and I’m assuming hurling too, is mostly a thinking man’s game now.

And if you’re losing your cool like that, your mind can’t be thinking rationally. It’s counter-productive.

To put pressure on referees or linesmen?

We bang on about players talking to referees and getting cards for it. I think it should be similar for managers.

We have the ‘Respect’ initiative in the GAA and we rightly chastise those who hurl abuse at officials from the stands.

But you’re talking about changing a culture here and it won’t change any time soon when you have someone of Davy’s profile giving referees, linesmen - or both - a hard time.

Now if there’s a specific issue, there are ways and means of dealing with it.

Most refs, I’m sure, are amenable to a quick chat at half-time or after a game if a manager needs clarification on something.

That’s the right way to do it. Because referees, no more than players, aren’t likely to respond to that sort of behaviour.

So what’s the point?

And if there is no point, why bother?

Most importantly, I think it has a negative effect on players.

Because if that’s how a manager reacts on the sideline, you can be sure he’s not much different in the dressing-room.

Players are so intelligent now that they just don’t respond to that sort of table-banging approach any more.

It’s old hat. And mostly, it’s contrived.

At half-time in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Kerry in 2009, Pat Gilroy went bananas at us. Nuked the dressing-room.

The reason that episode sticks out is because it was the only time it happened under Pat and it’s probably one of only a couple of times I can remember it happening in my career.

Pat was very calm usually and I reckon it was intentional.

I’m open to correction here but looking back, it felt a deliberate ploy to get a reaction from us, rather than him actually losing his cool and being unable to control it.

He felt that that was what the players needed at that point in time.

In Davy’s case, I just don’t think he can hold his temper, which doesn’t seem to be doing either him or his team any good.

I never once saw Jim Gavin lose the rag.


Similarly, I’d put my house on Mickey Harte not using anger as a motivating tool too often.

And Brian Cody doesn’t strike me as a man who has to raise his voice to get a point across.

Still, it’s an incredible achievement for the Clare footballers to outlast their hurlers this year all the same and I’m particularly delighted for their Dublin brigade; Mick Bohan, plus both Pat Burke and Shane McGrath.

Mick was a very good coach in the two years he spent working with us under Jim Gavin and I’m sure that’s had its benefits for Clare now. Mick was the skills coach and obviously, that was an area Jim focused heavily on.

Dublin have access to some of the best facilities and some of the best ideas in the world with regard to training, so I’m sure he’s brought some of that expertise down to Clare with him.

Both Shane and Pat would be highly respected footballers in Dublin and it shows the commitment of the two of them to make that sacrifice to travel to Clare to play inter-county football.

Unfortunately for them, it’s a different game now this weekend.

Croke Park in late July isn’t the ideal place to be planning a coup and Kerry won’t have to show much of what they’ll do in an All-Ireland semi-final to win on Sunday.

Their players will know a performance, regardless of set-up, will suffice, though it’s still worrying for them not to have Colm Cooper back. He needs football right now, so his expected non-appearance on Sunday would suggest he is at a stage of his comeback where competitive football is a risk to further injury.

And it might have gotten to the stage where, assuming he plays no part, he’s a better option coming off the bench in an All-Ireland semi-final than starting.

The flip-side for Kerry is that they’ll go into an All-Ireland semi-final mostly untested.

Hardly ideal, but they’re well used to it.


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