Defiant Davy flies the flag for star-spangled Banner
Davy Fitzgerald has predicted a "tough year" ahead for his young All-Ireland champions and has insisted he won't change his own ways now that Clare have reached hurling's summit.
Fresh from his side's thrilling 5-16 to 3-16 All-Ireland final replay triumph in Croke Park on Saturday evening, Fitzgerald acknowledged yesterday that his personality can divide opinion. But he is adamant that criticism or caricature won't change him one bit.
He defended his propensity to challenge refereeing decisions. He also suggested that sometimes such animated challenges can have an impact and says he is "fairly certain" some referees don't have time for him.
"I have seen the best managers in the game absolutely devour referees. I have seen it and I am absolutely certain ... some of the referees wouldn't have any time for me."
He feels such a relationship hasn't helped his team in the past.
"It certainly does not help. But what do I do? If I feel strongly about a decision I will argue it and you are trying your best to bite your lip.
"Brian Cody might not get as animated as me but he is able to get his opinion across as well. Some people don't (think it's important), I do. I won't say why I do but let's just say – I won't say it because I know at certain times it does work."
Fitzgerald also dismissed radio pundit Daithi Regan's contention after the drawn game that Fitzgerald's veiled reference to the refereeing of Brian Gavin could "cost" his team an All-Ireland title.
"I don't think Daithi Regan has ever anything good to say and he probably wants to make a name for himself. Listen, best of luck to him. There's no problem. He can say what he wants. All I can say to you is that's (lifting the Liam MacCarthy Cup) in the cupboard and it's great. I've had to listen to a lot of stuff. I'm not going to say... he has an opinion, that's fine."
On the future, Fitzgerald expects immediate challenges, but is full of hope which is not surprising considering the average age of the starting attack and midfielders is 21.5 years, with Colin Ryan the oldest at 25. Hat-trick hero Shane O'Donnell is only 19 years old.
"We're going to be there to be shot down next year, end of story. Next year will be a very tough year for Clare. But I can tell you one thing, they will give it everything and I know the year or two after that will be really exciting again because they won't go away."
Despite their great triumph, Clare are still trailing Kilkenny in next year's All-Ireland odds. Kilkenny are 3/1 favourites, followed by Clare 100/30, Tipperary and Cork 9/2 each, Galway 15/2, Limerick 8/1, Dublin 10/1, Waterford 20/1, Wexford and Offaly 150/1 each. The draw for next year's provincial championships will be made live on RTE 2 on Thursday (7.0).
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