Saturday 25 November 2017

Eamonn Sweeney: Davy Fitzgerald’s instincts lay in the direction of dictatorship rather than democracy

Davy Fitzgerlad. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Davy Fitzgerlad. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Eamonn Sweeney

Davy Fitzgerald’s departure from Clare is proof of that old adage that he who lives by the sword dies by it.

The Banner manager may have survived last year’s allegations of bullying but that incident portrayed a manager whose instincts lay in the direction of dictatorship rather than democracy. It was understandable enough that when push came to shove the Clare players seemed to have had enough of Fitzgerald’s turbulent reign.

He has little to complain about. The 2013 All-Ireland win was a magnificent achievement but since then the Banner’s championship record has been a bit of a shambles. There have been just four wins in three years, against Laois, Offaly and Limerick and a team containing perhaps the best young players in Ireland has fallen significantly behind not just Tipperary and Kilkenny but also Waterford and Galway.

When Clare won their third All-Ireland under 21 title in four years the future seemed to belong to them. That future was being derailed by the constant psychodrama Fitzgerald was starring in. Something a bit less fevered is required now.

Another manager who sometimes confuses passion with bad temper, Jose Mourinho, has had a rotten start to his time at Manchester United and you can already sense expectations being revised downwards. Fans who’ve had to put up with three seasons of talk about rebuilding and transition seem set for another one.

Perhaps the most dispiriting thing about Mourinho at this stage of his career is that the desire to protect what in modern parlance is termed his ‘brand’ seems to be paramount for the man. A willingness to publicly criticise players seems to indicate that Mourinho’s first priority is to ensure that whoever gets blamed when things go wrong, it won’t be him.

Questionable though their motivations might be, the Fancy Bears hacking team have done sport a favour by revealing the way in which athletes may have used Therapeutic Use Exemptions as a loophole enabling them to take prohibited substances. At the very least they have raised the question of whether TUEs should be available at all. If an athlete is using something on the banned list, his opponent is at a disadvantage whether that substance is being taken for medical reasons or not.

The British and American media have been keen to point out that the named athletes have broken no rules. This is true. But there is, as we all know, a difference between what you can get away with legally and what is ethically proper. And when you read about Bradley Wiggins being allowed to inject himself with a powerful steroid before three major cycling tours, the protestations of all the Team Sky apologists in the world are not enough to drown out the sound of chickens coming home to roost. Keep them coming Fancy Bears. With these TUE leaks you are really spoiling us.

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