Saturday 16 December 2017

Davy Fitz insists he 'trusts' Croke Park as ref row drags on

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

THE mornings after All-Ireland finals generally follow a pattern. For the winners, there's a giddy, sleepless elation, while the losers make solemn promises to go one better next year.

But the air in the lobby of Clare's hotel is stale with anti-climax. Suits remain in their bags and the forum for some of the year's most honest assessments stays largely closed for now. Last year's draw saw Galway and Kilkenny hastily rearrange their post-match plans as they opted to stay in their own beds.

Outside, the bus engine is running and a camera crew wait patiently. They too are in flux. There'll be no shot of Liam MacCarthy sitting at the front of the coach as they pull out and there was no homecoming for last night's news.

Davy Fitzgerald emerges from the mass of bodies. His eyes still dance in his head but he says he's drained. He elaborates slightly on what he had hinted at in his post-match interviews.

There's a reluctance to say too much about Sunday's officiating but he echoes an old point he makes about the bigger counties getting big calls.

"They (Croke Park) have got to have a good look at that and sort it out. We might be only small fry but we deserve a good crack at anything and I'll just leave it in their hands completely.

"I think the best thing – because I'll only get myself in trouble no matter what I say – is I am not going to comment. All I'll say is the amount of texts and calls I've got from people outside of Clare is unreal. I'd just prefer not to go into it."

He won't go into specifics but he might be referencing Shane O'Neill's pull on Darach Honan or when David McInerney was penalised for taking too many steps.

Equally, Clare were blessed when Patrick Kelly charged out to meet Anthony Nash's 20-metre free and Brian Gavin didn't call for a retake.

Instead, Fitzgerald uses only broad brushstrokes, pointing out that he is often asked if referees have an "agenda" against him but insisting he "trusts" Croke Park to have the right conditions in place for the replay.

"Ye were looking at the game, you have your own opinions. I'll leave that to yourselves," he said.

"Some people will say to me some of the referees have an agenda against me. I don't know. You'll have to look at a few of the games to decide that yourself but it wasn't the first game this year... I'm not getting into it about them.

"I'm going to let Croke Park... I trust them to deal with whatever. We in Clare are not going to say one word about the referee. We'll just leave it."

There's headaches for officials in the county too. Club championship in Clare, originally fixed for the weekend after next, will have to be postponed, while the U-21s have to refocus on their final on Saturday night.

"There's a contingency for everything, really. There will be three or four days off. There is recovery stuff that they have to do. We won't go training again until Thursday or Friday probably, we'll be training without 15 of the panel so there won't be a lot we can do," said Fitzgerald.

"(The U-21 game) is definitely not good for us, it doesn't help our preparations. It's just a big ask for lads who played in that game. I woke up this morning and I was absolutely drained and I can imagine how the lads feel.

"So to ask them to go back down, get back up for an All-Ireland U-21 final, come back down again, get back up again – it's a big ask.

"Is the initiative with Cork? Being realistic it probably is but it's up to us to try and make sure I can do my job in the week and a half before the game."

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