Davy Fitzgerald lets loose as he feels key decisions went Cork’s way and against Clare on the day
‘There were a lot of tough things going against them’
Clare’s Patrick Donnellan, Cian Dillon, Colin Ryan and Conor McGrath surround Christopher Joyce of Cork during the All-Ireland hurling final at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
In all likelihood somebody someday will make a movie about “Davy Fitz” but for now Mel Gibson’s 1997 offering Conspiracy Theory will have to suffice.
The tagline could certainly be rehashed: “A man obsessed with conspiracy theories becomes a target after one of his theories turns out to be true. Unfortunately, in order to save himself, he has to figure out which theory it is.”
There is never ever Davy Fitzgerald reaction without some reference to conspiracy, sometimes even treachery. It’s what makes him so odd yet compelling.
The former Clare goalkeeper’s autobiography (volume one anyway) is already penned and the documentary about his family’s fitness regime is coming to our television screens this autumn.
The next step seems inevitable. Especially if September 28th goes to plan. Because have no doubt about it, there’s method amidst the madness.
You hear about Kerry footballers and their piseogs but they have nothing on this wonderfully entertaining, astute, philosophical, gregarious and confounding man who leads The Banner on their current, epic quest.
Brian Gavin’s refereeing yesterday will understandably come under scrutiny and while Fitzgerald refused to name-check the Offaly whistle-blower he couldn’t help but highlight the “small fish” bias he feels contributed to decisions going Cork’s way during yesterday’s seismic collision.
“There were a lot of tough things going against them,” he said about the young Clare hurlers. “I won’t say unfair. I could. But a lot of tough things went against them and they still came back for more.”
What of those 30-odd seconds Gavin allowed after injury time was spent for Pat Kelly’s puck out to eventually find the hand of Domhnall O’Donovan for the latest of equalisers?
Did that not balance it all out, Davy, even a little?
“No. The only answer to that question is no and leave it at that.”
We would not leave it at that. We probe deeper into the decisions that went with Cork.
“Ah no, I’m not going into that. It was a good hurling game. Anyone with a pair of eyes out there would know what the story is.”
Shane O’Neill’s hurley certainly caught the head of Darach Honan early in this beautiful game. Gavin consulted his umpires before flashing a yellow card at each man.
“We both got yellows but I didn’t feel I deserved it,” said Honan after.
Of course, according to Davy, the advantage is now firmly with Cork and his boys will be badly damaged by this weekend’s under-21 All-Ireland final, of which four seniors starters are involved, and for all he knows his panel might just be spent.
“No matter what happens I’m so proud of them,” Fitzgerald added.
And still, he couldn’t help alluding to Clare’s half-time lead of just two points being hindered by shadier forces.
“If you look at the first half; should we really have been up more than two?
“There is only one fella you ask that and I won’t mention his name. We should’ve been up more than two. Without a shadow of a doubt. They played their hearts out. And then we got the sucker punches in the second half but they kept coming back for more.
“You just be hoping tisn’t all spent. That’s the big worry. They gave every single thing they had. Cork would feel themselves they will play a lot better the next day. It’s hard to know what will happen.”
Did Clare hope to surprise Cork by playing without a sweeper?
“Did we have no sweeper today? Ah, Jesus. We just picked different things. We could be back with a sweeper for the next day. You don’t know what will happen, I’ll have to have a look at it again.
“Like, a lot of people didn’t give Cork the credit they deserved all year. Cork are a really good hurling team. And I’ve said that. You can’t leave too many of them loose around there or they are going to hurt you. They showed great character and resilience themselves today.”
The most important aspect of it all was that Clare survived. Should have won. Didn’t lose. All because of O’Donovan’s inexplicable late strike.
The next question instantly relaxed the mood, making every person in the press room giggle.
What was going through your mind when your corner back was about to take that shot?
“You don’t want to f***ing know! Like, I was looking and thinking is there anyone else to get on the ball bar Dunny because nine times out of ten at training it goes wide.
‘Dreams on the line’
“But, you know what, wasn’t it some kind of thinking straight away, and by our goalie, to play it down that (left) side. Everything we had worked for, our dreams, were on the line. It was the only time we were behind in the whole feckin’ game. I could not believe we were behind because I didn’t think we deserved to be.
“When he got it, hats off to him, Dunny has got a bit of stick during the year and fair play to him he came up trumps.
“But we shouldn’t have been in that position . . . It all rested on that at the end, it shouldn’t of have, but it did.”
What did you say to him afterwards?
“Ah, we had some laugh and so did the boys because we know what he is like at training. Normally we’d be telling him to hit it into the square but I’m delighted for the young man.”
Already, the deflection of praise and planning has begun.