Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald has defended himself and his management team following claims that he “humiliated” members of the banner panel.
Nicky O’Connell and Davy O’Halloran were both punished by Fitzgerald recently for breaching panel rules and in today’s Irish Times, O’Halloran was scathing in his assessment of how himself and O’Connell were treated by the Clare management team.
Last Friday, the duo were left out of the Clare panel to face Dublin today and it has since emerged that they left on their own accord because they refused to carry our three weeks’ punishment set by Fitzgerald because they felt “humiliated” in front of their own team-mates.
They claim they were not allowed to interact with the rest of their team-mates, had to change is separate rooms and could not wear their county colours.
They also believe there was one rule for them and one for another, more senior, member of the panel after they were caught out socialising two days before the Banner were due to play Galway last month.
“I had a strained hamstring so I wasn’t able to train anyway so that’s why I was out, I definitely wouldn’t have been out if I could have featured against Galway,” said O’Halloran in today’s Irish Times.
“And I wasn’t drinking. Myself and Nicky O’Connell were out two nights before the Galway game and the two of us were actually injured at the time and we weren’t drinking.
“We met one of our trainers out and he said he would say it back to the captain about us being out and we just said fair enough.
“Davy wasn’t told until after the Cork game because they didn’t want to tell him until after the two league games so they waited until we had our week’s break.
“He then called a meeting on the Tuesday night in the dressing room, he called it (the punishments) out in front of everyone.
“While all of this was happening another senior player told Nicky that he’d had a meeting with one of the selectors who told him he knew that he was drinking but he wasn’t going to say anything about it.
“We just thought it was double standards, one rule for us and a different rule for someone else just because he was a pivotal part of the team and we weren’t at the time basically.”
But following Clare’s 2-22 to 2-20 win over Dublin in the Allianz League today, Fitzgerald hit back, claiming he is 110pc happy with the decisions he and his management team made.
“First of all Brian, I didn’t drop two, they left the panel and all I am going to say on this matter is myself and the management are very happy that we treated everyone and will treat everyone the same way as we did,” said Fitzgerald to RTE’s Brian Carthy.
“They are not bad lads but we are 100pc certain that we do things by the book and there is a set of rules there and that is the way it is and they were implemented. That’s all it was Brian and I will not be saying one other word apart from that.”
When pushed on O’Halloran’s scathing comments, Fitzgerald was adamant he would not be drawn into a debate on the issue.
“It is (strong words), but it’s untrue. I am not going into it. That’s it, I have told you all I am going to Brian. All I am going to tell you is that there is no more coming whether you like it or you don’t.”
And the All Ireland winning Clare manager again emphasised that he is certain every member of his panel is treated the same.
“I am 110pc certain of that. 110pc certain of that. And after this comment I will not be bringing it up again.”
Asked if he thought that the punishments dished out were fair to amateur players, Fitzgerald drew a blank before saying: “Brian I have told you, I think fair is fair.”
On today’s match, Fitzgerald admitted that the two-point win over Dublin will help lift some of the tension his players have been feeling over the past couple of weeks.
“We performed really well. The pleasing thing was there were times when we were down six and seven points and with 14 guys we didn’t throw in the towel.
“Lads have been a bit tense the past couple of weeks because, I suppose, some of you guys (the media) talking about us not winning a game is unreal because we could easily be sitting on four points at this stage, maybe even six.”
While today was Clare’s first win in the League this year, Fitzgerald insists he is not under any extra pressure.
“If you ask the lads inside they will tell you that the teamtalk was the calmest I ever gave. Pressure? To be honest, I don’t really read too much, I tell the lads we don’t really bother with the media to be honest,” said Fitzgerald.
“We don’t read or listen to too much. The important thing is we just do what we do for each other. We might lose the next game or two and I don’t know what will happen. I have a fantastic bunch of players there who are committed to Clare hurling.”
Despite Brendan Bugler’s first-half dismissal, Clare put in a fighting performance to see off Dublin by 2-22 to 2-20 in today’s Allianz League clash.
Scorers – Clare: T Kelly 1-9 (0-7f); J Conlon 1-4 (0-2f); C McGrath 0-5; A Cunningham 0-1, P Donnellan 0-1, D Reidy 0-1, D McInerney 0-1.
Dublin: D O’Callaghan 1-4; P Ryan 0-5 (0-5f); L Rushe 0-4; C Boland 1-0; M Schutte 0-3; D Sutcliffe 0-1, C Crummy 0-1, S Barrett 0-1, B Quinn 0-1 each
Clare: D Tuohy; P Flanagan, C Dillon, D McInerney; B Bugler, C Ryan, P O'Connor; P Donnellan, C Galvin; J Conlon, T Kelly, S Golden; C McGrath, S O'Donnell, A Cunningham.
Subs: D Reidy for Golden (43 mins), J Browne for O'Connor (52), D O'Donovan for Flanagan (inj 67), B Duggan for Cunningham (70).
Dublin: A Nolan; C O'Callaghan, M Carton, P Schutte; C Crummy, P Kelly, S Barrett; C Cronin, S Durkin; D Sutcliffe, P Ryan, M Schutte; D O'Callaghan, L Rushe, C Boland.
Subs: N Corcoran for Carton (inj 28 mins), B Quinn for Cronin (55), C Keaney for Corcoran (60), E Dillon for Sutcliffe (inj 64),
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).