Niall Moyna hits out at DCU over Enda Fitzpatrick’s exit

Professor says that Fitzpatrick is ‘a coach that comes along once in a generation’

Niall Moyna has expressed concern at DCU’s decision not to extend Enda Fitzpatrick’s contract. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Niall Moyna has expressed concern at DCU’s decision not to extend Enda Fitzpatrick’s contract. Photo: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

Professor Niall Moyna, head of the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University (DCU), has expressed his concern and incomprehension over the decision not to pursue an extension to Enda Fitzpatrick’s position as the university’s Athletics Academy Director.

Speaking ahead of the submission of a students’ position to retain Fitzpatrick, to DCU president Brian MacCraith at lunchtime today, Moyna also suggested his departure “would reflect poorly on this university”, and described Fitzpatrick as “the most successful coach in the history of Irish third level sport”.

DCU athletics club have gathered over 2,000 signatures on the petition to retain Fitzpatrick, present and former members, including three-time Olympian Fionnuala McCormack, among those to present it.

Fitzpatrick, a former international 1,500m runner and sub-four minute miler, has held the position since 2005, on a secondment basis, having previously worked as a teacher in Holy Faith secondary school in Clontarf. DCU maintain the position was only agreed on a temporary secondment, and following a recent directive from the Department of Education, no extensions were being considered.

“I am extremely disappointed with that decision,” Moyna told The Irish Times. “Enda Fitzpatrick is a coach that comes along once in a generation. He’s a unique individual, was an elite athlete himself, and is also the most student-centred individual.

“You can’t put a price on that, and it would reflect very poorly on DCU if he was let go. I just cannot comprehend it. They had nine years to regularise this position, why are they doing it now? If he was in America, he would be a superstar, or as I said to someone else, we’re getting rid of an academic Nobel laureate.

“It’s so, so difficult to get really good people in sport, and it’s not just what he’s done in athletics, that stands on his own two feet. It’s how he interacts with the students. Why would you want to get rid of someone like that? I just can’t understand it, and my worry is that it is doing reputational damage to this wonderful institution.”

In an email to Brian MacCraith, DCU president, Moyna also outlined his belief “there are a number of compelling reasons” to extend Fitzpatrick’s tenure: “Prior to 2004, DUC never placed in the top-5 of an athletics championship; since then, 190 team titles have been won, along with hundreds of individual titles, and in those few short years have surpassed the outstanding record of UCD, achieved over 110 years.

“I have no hesitation is stating that this record ranks Enda as the most successful coach in the history of Irish third level sport. Enda is a popular, successful, well-respected, much-admired, and much-loved coach, who has played a major role in developing sport in DCU. He would be viewed as a superstar coach if he was working in an American university.

“I believe that allowing Enda to leave DCU under the present circumstances would reflect poorly on this university. You simply cannot put a price on Enda’s role over the last number of years where he has played such a part in transforming the lives of so many young men and women.”

Moyna, whose interest in sport is spread between Gaelic football and athletics, set up the DCU Athletics Academy with Fitzpatrick in 2003; in recent years he has managed the DCU senior football team to four Sigerson Cups. He was also selector on the St Vincents team that won the All-Ireland club football championship in 2008, and part of the Dublin senior football backroom team that has won the All-Ireland senior football title in 2011.

Fitzpatrick also maintains that in correspondence with his former school, Holy Faith, DCU were presented with the opportunity to apply for a further extension, should both parties agree, only this wasn’t pursued.

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