Davy Fitzgerald not about to give up ghost with Clare

Results in 2015 won’t decide future of 2013 All-Ireland winning manager

“I know the intensity and work rate is coming back,” says Davy Fitzgerald of his Clare hurling team. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

“I know the intensity and work rate is coming back,” says Davy Fitzgerald of his Clare hurling team. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho.

 

Davy Fitzgerald, in a rare interview outside a match-day situation, has stated his intent to continue as Clare hurling manager regardless of results in 2015.

Despite Clare winning only one game this year and without a championship victory since 2013, albeit the All-Ireland final replay against Cork, Fitzgerald was adamant his position would not be under threat even if their campaign ended with defeat in the July 4th qualifier.

“No,” he responded in the Clare Champion when it was suggested his position could be in jeopardy. “I am fairly happy with what we’ve done. I believe it will come right. If I ever feel there comes a stage where I have nothing to offer the team . . . I won’t be in this for the next 10 years. I know that myself and I won’t try to be but while I still have something to offer, I’ll be there.”

Clare, Fitzgerald explained, averaged 19 turnovers a game in 2013. That dropped to 12 or 13 in 2014 and their tackle count dipped by 15 per cent.

“In the last league game against Kilkenny we got up to 15 or 16 turnovers and for the Limerick game we hit 20. So I know the intensity and work rate is coming back.”

Fitzgerald also contested the suggestion that he “micro manages” the off-field lives of the Clare hurlers.

“There is a bit of slack,” said the 43-year-old. “The only thing is when they are off the drink at a certain spell. I ask them to ring me when they are going out, so that someone won’t ring me and say ‘I heard x or y was out’. I trust them. Every now and again a guy will make a mistake. I’m not going to kill him over that. It’s just about keeping a happy medium so that we don’t go absolutely ballistic.”

Disciplinary measures

Davy O’Halloran, Podge Collins, Nicky O’Connell and Colm Galvin left the panel for different reasons this year. O’Connell and O’Halloran walked after disputing disciplinary measures taken against them but the former was welcomed back once he apologised. O’Halloran and Collins moved to the football panel while Galvin is playing hurling in Boston.

“I’ve texted his Dad,” said Fitzgerald of Galvin’s possible return. “I don’t know yet if he’s coming back. I’m trying my level best. His Dad is a massive Clare man and Clonlara man. You’d never know. Hopefully he might. He loves his county and his club.”

Paul Kinnerk, the renowned coach, left the backroom team to travel but Fitzgerald hopes he will return in 2016.

“Anyone of my team that are gone, I’d love to have them back.”

He’s also adamant the players are not under strict instructions on the field. “Take a fella like Tony Kelly, nine times out of 10 my words to Tony are ‘go out and play where you want’ . . . other guys you might ask them to track back. It’s nothing exceptional and they are not tied to anything.

“We have a certain amount of tactics but the biggest message for me is play with freedom and that’s even at training.”

The club versus county issue, which arguably played a part in Clare’s early exit from the 2014 qualifiers, when beaten by Wexford, has seemingly been solved.

Not an option

“Last year was bad. Last year affected us but I made doubly sure that was not going to happen this year.”

Moving away from the sideline is not an option for Fitzgerald, despite his preference to watch matches from the stand.

“I’ve often asked the lads would they prefer us in the stand. They said ‘No, we want you on the sideline.’ I love being able to watch the game from a height. I think I’m pretty okay at reading the game when I’m back further. It’s very hard to see it when you’re on the sideline.”

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