Friday 24 January 2020

No shock at Fitzgerald's Connacht elevation - Daly

Shane Daly
Shane Daly

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Winger Shane Daly says Conor Fitzgerald's Munster exit came as a shock, but there has been no surprise at the way the out-half has bounced back from the disappointment.

Fitzgerald joined his brother Stephen at Connacht and has thrived under Andy Friend's guidance, pushing Ireland's Jack Carty out of the starting XV with a slew of top-level performances.

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This week won't be the first time the duo have lined up on opposite sides and, while he is delighted to see his pal do well out west, Daly is hoping things go better for him this time.

"He's a talented player and he actually knocked me out of the senior cup when I was in sixth year," Daly recalled with a wry smile.

"It was a last play kick, we (Presentation Brothers College, Cork) were playing Ardscoil Rís in the semi-final and he kicked one from about 55 metres against the wind.

"It was one of the most bizarre things ever and it crawled over the crossbar and he broke my heart there, so never let him live that one down to be honest but any kick he ever missed in training, I'd say, 'Why didn't you do that a few years ago'.

"I'd have only been a year ahead of him in the academy so we would always have been training together so it's great to see him do so well now.

"Conor would be a very close friend of mine, you'd wish it was in a Munster jersey but look he bounced back from that and those kind of stories are great to hear.

"It was obviously probably quite disappointing for him and probably a bit of a shock for him as well when he got released from here so to see him go to Connacht and have the impact he's had. I'm delighted for him.

"Sometimes players don't perform or sometimes players can perform with different players or in a different team structure, it can have an impact on your own game and I think obviously the way Connacht are playing is suiting him massively.

"So, he probably in the right place and taking all his opportunities, so I'm delighted for him."

Fitzgerald is not the only one thriving this season.

Although he has yet to make his European debut, Daly has consistently been name-checked by his coaches as a coming man and he was Munster's travelling reserve for their four Champions Cup games so far.

Being 24th man is a weird experience, but it's a sign that he's close to the big time.

"I was there or thereabouts so obviously I wouldn't wish an injury on anybody but over the course of four games you think you might get lucky and someone will be injured but it was a little disappointing not to be involved but there are lots of lads fighting for those places as well," he said.

"It's good to be involved even if it's just been on the sideline for those games. You feel the buzz.

"That's probably something you don't get in the PRO14 games; it's a completely different vibe around the games.

"It's an electric buzz and you'd love to be part of it. And it will definitely stand to me going into those games that it's not something new when I do get the opportunity."

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