Fitzgerald ready to turn focus elsewhere as he adjusts to the new normal

Experienced hurling boss will be without intercounty duties for the first time in 15 years

Davy Fitzgerald: missed out on the Galway job that went instead to Kilkenny legend Henry Shefflin. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Davy Fitzgerald: missed out on the Galway job that went instead to Kilkenny legend Henry Shefflin. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

The last time Davy Fitzgerald had a decent break from intercounty hurling, for a few months in the summer of 2007, he threw himself into golf and practiced “12, 13, maybe 14 hours a day”.

He was a low handicapper and the practice paid off as he entered the South of Ireland championship and pulled off a shock win over Cian Curley, a top amateur at the time.

“I’d say that’s one of his biggest nightmares ever!” laughs Fitzgerald now, eyeing another break from hurling after departing Wexford and missing out on the Galway manager’s job last week.

Truth be told, he’s nervous about the next few months and not being involved in county activity for the first time since the 1980s.

“I’ve gone out a small bit handicap-wise and I only play for fun now,” he says, revealing he intends to help out his uncle, John, more on the local farm.

“He has the farm down the road, which I’ve neglected a small bit. I’m going to have to get my ass in gear.”

Having managed for 14 consecutive seasons, in Wexford, Clare and Waterford, on the back of a lengthy playing career with the Banner, a Fitzgerald-less 2022 will feel strange, for him as much as anyone.

“Am I nervous about what January, February and March will bring? I am kind of nervous a small bit,” he admits. “I know I have stuff to do but I have no intercounty team to be with, which is the first time since 1989.”

Early last week, the breaking news was that Fitzgerald was to manage Galway. It turned out Henry Shefflin was the man the Tribesmen wanted.

Fitzgerald bears no grudges, certainly not with Shefflin, and argues that King Henry was correct not to simply sit and wait for Brian Cody to move on in Kilkenny.

“Is Henry meant to just sit there and do nothing? Is he meant to wait for Brian Cody?” queried Fitzgerald.

“My honest opinion is that Brian Cody shouldn’t be going any place, I think he’s doing a really good job. In sport nowadays, between certain media and certain supporters, if they don’t get a win it’s ‘get rid of the manager’. But what Brian Cody has achieved is second to none, why should they get rid of him?

Do nothing

“Should they have someone ready to take over from him? I think Brian is smart enough that he knows that if he wants to finish in a year or two, he’d have someone ready. Would Henry probably be one of them? Definitely. But why should Henry sit around and do nothing now?”

You’d be forgiven for thinking one person Fitzgerald does have a grudge against is current Clare manager Brian Lohan. It’s well known that they fell out but Fitzgerald maintains he’s done with quarrelling.

“I held out an olive branch, he didn’t want to take it after the Wexford game,” said Fitzgerald, referring to Wexford’s defeat to Clare in the championship. “I can’t do any more. I don’t have any interest in fighting, I really don’t.”

Fitzgerald is sticking to his guns regarding the alleged online abuse of his father, Clare GAA secretary Pat Fitzgerald, however. The Director of Public Prosecutions is apparently considering whether to recommend a criminal prosecution.

“It’s back in with the DPP at the moment, so it’s under review,” said Fitzgerald. “I can say very little about it but it’s ongoing at the moment. We will not be letting this go, no matter what the story is. There’s people who have got to answer questions and please God we will not give in, no matter how long it takes – even if we have to go personal on this.”

Fitzgerald’s mood brightens when discussing his TV plans.

He will continue to be part of RTÉ show Ireland’s Fittest Family and, as part of Londis’s sponsorship, there’s a competition to win a training session with the hurling legend.

“I don’t care what sport it is, I’ll have a cut at it, I’ll try anything, have a bit of craic for an hour or two,” he smiled. There’ll be a series two of the well-received Davy’s Toughest Team too. He’s still a box office character.

“There was that frenzy last week with Galway, there was a lot of attention, some people saying, ‘what would you get Davy for, with the circus that comes with him?’” said Fitzgerald. “Some people would say that – some stupid people. I just go on results. I like getting results. And I think I’ve done pretty well on that.”

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