Sunday 18 February 2018

'Natural end' to Davy's time with Clare

Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile
Davy Fitzgerald. Photo: Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Clare captain Patrick O'Connor has insisted that Davy Fitzgerald's departure as Banner hurling manager was "clean" and a "natural ending" to his four-year tenure.

Fitzgerald, now Wexford boss, stepped aside in his native county last September, having guided Clare to All-Ireland glory in 2013 and an Allianz League title in his final season at the helm.

In a statement confirming his departure, Fitzgerald said that he had been undecided about his future following the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Galway, and asked then joint-captains Cian Dillon and Tony Kelly to gauge the mood of the players.

When "divided opinions" were expressed, Fitzgerald left "in the best interests of Clare hurling".

Since then, Fitzgerald has presided over Wexford's promotion from Division 1B of the Allianz League, and a march to Sunday's Leinster SHC final against Galway.

And O'Connor said: "With Davy, anything is possible. This time last year, we were thinking what is going to lie ahead… but it turned out to be, for both parties, a kind of a natural ending to the very successful time he had here - he's expressed as much, that it was his call to go and he's happy he did go.

"Wexford are reaping the benefits now because from what I can see, there's a really rejuvenated manager, his energy is up and he looks well.

"He has a Wexford team responding to all the enthusiasm he brings. We're delighted to see that."

O'Connor (26) was one of Fitzgerald's most trusted foot-soldiers. He says they enjoyed a healthy personal relationship with Fitzgerald, but that there was a necessary and "professional" distance between them.

He explained: "It's the same professionally, the relationship you have with your manager is never going to be pally-pally, it can't be.

"He played me any time I was fit so from that point of view, I had a very good relationship with Davy.

"We mightn't necessarily have talked five times a week or anything like that but no player/manager is like that, it can't be like that.

"Within the group, we knew that it (Fitzgerald's exit) was clean and it was good, what we were doing, and it was done the right way, between player and manager.

"But the stick that he took from outside, nobody wanted to see that happening to him because he's an immensely passionate Clare man, first of all, and a hurling man second."

Both Clare and Wexford appear to have benefited from Fitzgerald's switch, in the short-term at least, from that 'natural' parting of ways.

And O'Connor, who'll attempt to lead Clare to a first Munster title in 19 years on Sunday week, reflected: "It does look like a win-win. It finished well between both players and management. He was happy to go and it was a natural ending, really.

"But we're delighted to see him having success because we know how much he puts into it."

Irish Independent

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