Monday 22 January 2018

Diarmuid Lyng: Davy Fitz's flaws scream at you, but that's his magic

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald celebrates his side's victory
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald celebrates his side's victory

Diarmuid Lyng

Bad karma isn't something I would have ever associated with Jimmy Barry-Murphy, but he called it during the week, imploring someone to emulate Walter Walsh's heroics last year and turn the replay on its head.

It turned out to be a call to a 19-year-old from Eire Og, the personification of a new breed of hurler in Clare. They're young, confident, capable and most importantly of all, they've accepted winning as something they're permitted to do.

They aren't waiting to be invited to the top table of hurling. They've arrived, invited or not, in a blaze of blue and gold.

Barry-Murphy's opposite number is a different story. We know so much, the pundits and the people. With the depth of analysis and real-time information that has swept through sport like a wildfire, we are in the know now as soon as it happens.

But some things are kept away from us.

Whether we like it or not, Davy Fitzgerald (pictured) is an enigma. From the outside it looks like chaos. Ego. Blind determination. But inside the Clare dressing- room it's nothing like that. Maybe inside his head it's nothing like that either. It can't be all madness and trench warfare. There's method in there. There's real love in there too. That's how they speak about him.

We can dress it up whatever way we like. But it's clear. It was clear for me talking to Brendan Bugler after the game. "If you'd one thing to say to Davy, Brendan, what would it be?" "I love you," came the reply. Don't feel like you have to squirm. It's real and it's tangible and it's pure.

Brendan is a smart guy. He doesn't follow blindly. The opposite in fact. He's a leader. Off the field as well as on. And that's what he would say to Davy Fitz.

The aristocracy will find his many flaws. In fact, we all will. It's impossible not to. Because they're in your face. They scream at you. Get under your skin. The imperfection of it all. And that, for me, is his magic. Perfectionism is overrated. In fact, it's a curse. The lack of acceptance of things as they are, not as they should be.

Of course, he shouldn't run on to the field. Of course, he shouldn't remonstrate from the sideline. And we'll laugh and jeer when he's told to get back in his box. But the reason he has fulfilled his greatest ambition is that he has no box to get back into. And because he accepted Clare hurlers for what they are, not how much like Kilkenny's prototype they could be.

Be annoyed. Get angry.

He can't be pencilled in to an area of our lives that we are satisfied that we have an understanding and a control over – because he's absolutely pure. That little ... but he is. He's purely himself. There's nothing more pure. Nothing more unique. Nothing more important in a time when we're encouraged to fit in, instead of being courageous enough to stand out. Put it all on the line and say: 'This is who I am and this is what I'm about.'

But, of course, it's not all about Davy Fitz. They're a unique bunch. Shane O'Donnell won't celebrate for the month because he's looking to get back to the club. Patrick Donnellan feels lucky to be part of a great group of guys that are enjoying something they were apparently born to do. They're as modest as they are talented. Little fear for Cork in it all, too.

The Rebels were second best, but they had a solidity that defied their experience. Clare are young. Cork are every bit as young. Clare have dominated national finals under age. Cork are mobilising. They'll be back.

Seamus Harnedy's 60th minute goal could have swung it in their favour. It would have been a coup. But that's the team that's developing. A team with the ability to deal with almost whatever Clare threw at them. There's as much resilience there as there is talent. Just not enough on the day. Just as one superpower flounder, another one steps into the breach.

We can look forward again now. Ponder without fear of getting a beating by a Cat for even thinking about winning. Waterford will raise their head above the parapet for a while longer now. Limerick will spend less time in the trench. Wexford will begin to dream again. The year belongs to Clare. But we're all better off.

Irish Independent

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