Monday 19 March 2018

Michael McCarthy: Same old post-match routine wearing thin for Davy Fitzgerald

Clare boss needs to address his side's lack of discipline and stop blaming referees

Davy Fitzgerald remonstrates with officials during Clare’s defeat to Limerick
Davy Fitzgerald remonstrates with officials during Clare’s defeat to Limerick

Michael McCarthy

It's Sunday night in Walsh's Bar in Killaloe. The post- mortem is on. For the first time I can remember, we're not blaming the referee. There were some baffling decisions to be sure, but generally the mood is, "he was bad for both teams".

We are all a bit perplexed by one minute's injury-time, but really the talk is about indiscipline. Four sendings off in three Championship games. Another Championship defeat when a free-taker killed us.

The Sunday Game comes on the TV. We relive the ups and downs from a new perspective. Aaron Cunningham's goals are better than we remembered. Seanie Tobin's sending-off is incredibly harsh.

Then we get to the Davy Fitzgerald interview and silence descends. "I've no comment to make on anything. You have a look at all the facts, you'll see. I've no comment to make. . . I'm 100pc certain we did not deserve to lose that game."

The interview is met was sighs and laughter. Where have we heard that before? I wrote in this paper a couple of months ago that Davy seems to have the same reaction after every game. This was borne out to a comical extent on Sunday.

Davy says Clare are not a dirty team, and I agree with him. But you don't have to be dirty to give away a huge amount of frees. Shane Dowling told us on Monday night that's the Clare way.

"They do a lot of pulling and dragging, and I suppose until referees pick up on it, they'll keep playing that way.

"The more you play like that, the higher rate you're going to give away frees. . . I thought a lot more frees could have been given to us."

There's a real issue there that's costing Clare games, and moaning about refs at every opportunity does nothing to address the problem.

In 2013, a young, exciting team came out of nowhere to win an All-Ireland. The country rejoiced. Less than two years later, you get the impression the GAA public is sick to death of them.

The public face of the team is Davy Fitz, and his personality affects the image of the county to opposition players, the media, the fans, and, of course, the referees.

Clare showed a lot of heart and talent to come back on Sunday. Let's not forget the players they were missing, or that they played with 14 men for the second half. The summer is far from over. There's massive potential for improvement.

But even in a county where a conspiracy theory is always welcome, it's time to take responsibility for our shortcomings, and stop blaming the big bad wolf.

Irish Independent

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