Thursday 22 August 2019

Eamonn Sweeney: 'It's difficult to decide which is worse: Davy's tantrums or the justification of commentators'

Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile
Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile
Eamonn Sweeney

Eamonn Sweeney

A few weeks ago I was walking the dog on the by-road from Oldcourt to Skibbereen when we met a car coming towards us on a corner as a van passed us on the other side. Myself and Loki kept well into the side, but the narrowness of the stretch in question meant the car had to momentarily slow down.

The driver of the car went ape. I could see him inside, waving his arms furiously up and down in the manner of a footballer appealing for a penalty from a referee who doesn't speak his language, mouthing away and generally looking like a cross between Linda Blair in The Exorcist and King Lear raging at the storm.

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The funny thing was that he'd had to slow down for approximately 1.87 seconds. Unless he was en route to cutting the red wire on a doomsday device it was hard to see how his time could have been so precious.

They're everywhere, these enraged pricks. Shouting at cyclists, fighting on social media, haranguing waiters, fuming that the bus is late, seething because their dinner isn't cooked properly or they've been on hold too long or the courier should be here by now, going bald-headed for people in public.

They are maestros of anger, virtuosos of complaint and Davy Fitzgerald is their representative in the world of Irish sport.

Our Ambassador from the Republic of Male Rage did his thing again last weekend. Brian Lohan's, "Some of the antics, they're not great" comment about his former team-mate was restrained in the circumstances.

The problem with the latest tantrum is not so much that the Banner Brat lost his temper with a linesman. It's in the way he doubled down on it afterwards with the comment, "That official wanted to make a name for himself and fair play to him, he probably did." It's the kind of dig which reveals a determination to humiliate an adversary which doesn't say much for Fitzgerald as a person.

Anyone can lose the head, continuing to prosecute a grudge when the red mist has cleared is another thing altogether. In fact, it was Fitzgerald who provoked the confrontation, berating the official at length and encroaching on the pitch to do so. There was plenty of time for him to step away before referee Johnny Murphy arrived but he refused to do so. Not for the first time, Fitzgerald seemed to have taken the decision to be out of control.

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One thing the latest outburst had in common with its predecessors was that things were going badly at the time for Fitzgerald's team. Wexford were several points down, as they'd been during Fitzgerald's journey on to the pitch against Tipperary in the 2017 league semi-final.

Another is that there are always people there to make excuses for Fitzgerald and downplay the incident. There was the usual guff about how 'passionate' and hard-working 'Davy' is and the implicit suggestion that his tantrums are in some way a tribute to his character.

But no-one would deny that John Kiely or John Meyler are passionate or that Micheál Donoghue and Liam Sheedy are hard working and they don't see the need to act like this. Lohan's, "I don't know if it's genuine passion" comment seems closer to the mark.

It's odd, this eternal rush to give Fitzgerald a fool's pardon. Does that come from pity? Or fear? Or a desire to stay on the right side of the man in case he wins something?

Why would a normally sensible man like Brendan Cummins weasel on about Davy being unfairly treated last Sunday because of his reputation when there'd have been a sensation had any other leading manager behaved like this? Who does Cummins think is responsible for Fitzgerald's reputation? Does he think the man won it in a lottery?

The tantrums, it seems, will continue as long as Fitzgerald is a manager. And there'll also be more squeaking, squawking, spitting, spluttering justifications which are even harder to look at. It will all end badly.

Yet in a way the justifications of others are the worst thing of all. If Davy Fitz might not know better, but his defenders do. No grown up should act like Davy Fitzgerald does but no grown up should defend him either.

One clown is enough to be going on with.

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