Saturday 21 April 2018

Clare star Tony Kelly says Davy Fitzgerald has 'full backing' of Banner squad

Patrick Kelly embracing Davy Fitzgerald after Clare’s 2013 All-Ireland victory
Patrick Kelly embracing Davy Fitzgerald after Clare’s 2013 All-Ireland victory
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Clare goalkeeper Patrick Kelly insists Davy Fitzgerald has the full backing of the squad to continue at the helm of the county's hurlers.

The Banner endured another disappointing season, losing to Limerick in Munster before crashing out to Cork in the back door.

They also suffered relegation from Division 1A, and attracted unwanted headlines when panel member Davy O'Halloran went public with claims that he was mistreated.

It was the second successive year that Clare had failed to live up to expectations. When they were defending All-Ireland champions in 2014, the Rebels beat them in Munster before limping out of the Championship with a replay defeat to Wexford.

Since winning the All-Ireland title in 2013, Clare have won just one Championship game, against Offaly a couple of months ago.

However, Kelly has no doubt that Fitzgerald is the right man for the job and believes the players have to take responsibility for their performances.

"He has the full backing of the players," Kelly said at the launch of this year's M Donnelly-sponsored Poc Fada tournament.

"There is no question about that. A lot of stuff has been talked over the media about trying to get Davy out but I can guarantee he has the full backing of every single member of that squad.

"With Davy you get what you see with him. He is an aggressive character on the line but the thought he puts into the game is second to none, his tactics.

"It wasn't his fault we didn't put the ball in the net against Cork. He wasn't out there on the field. The players have to take responsibility for that loss.

"Two or three of the boys were on Clare FM last week and backed him so there shouldn't be any question.

"If someone had said to us four or five years ago that a Clare team that had no success since the 1990s and was barely winning games would win an All-Ireland under Davy within two years of him taking over. . . and now people want him out.

"It's a bit unfair on the chap. He definitely deserves another crack at the whip."

Kelly denied that success came too early to a young Banner team in 2013.

"You have to grasp the opportunity when it comes and we took it. I think the opportunity will pop up again over the next three or four years if we stay together as a group," he said.

"Everyone within the group is really, really friendly and the group is really united.

"Brian Hogan was talking a week or two ago about Kilkenny's unity, saying that's why they're winning so much.

"I think we have that in Clare, it's just about tweaking one or two small things to get things right for next year.

"We will have to find another level again. Another 15-20pc, we will have to find that over the winter and we will have to find that hunger and aggression and sharpness to compete with the Kilkennys and Tipps and Galways and Corks.

"It's very disappointing, to be honest. Relegated from the league, lost two Championships games from three. We know we can do better and we just have to come back fighting next year, just try to get it together, see where we went wrong.

"There will be a lot of soul-searching going on the next few months, but hopefully we can get it right over the next few years."

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