Just over a month after his appointment as Clare Senior Football Trainer, Ephie Fitzgerald has made his opinions known on the dual debate that has been the talk of the Country.
The Cork native has said the speculated ultimatum given by the Clare Senior Hurling management to players that wanted to play both hurling and football for the Banner is “ridiculous”. However, Fitzgerald did admit that he felt that the dual situation was not possible at inter-county level.
Speaking on Clare FM’s ‘Sideline View’ with Derrick Lynch, Fitzgerald confessed that the dual situation poses more problems for those playing hurling than football. “I would say it’s probably more problematic for the hurlers than the footballers. Hurling is a game you probably need to be doing on a consistent basis and they’ve the physical side to it aswell. In terms of physical fitness, there’s a lot more running done in football than there is in hurling, I think there’s probably more strength required in the football too. I think it’s a personal choice, I wouldn’t be dogmatic with anybody”.
The former Limerick Senior Football Trainer declared that reported ultimatums given to players in Clare were “ridiculous”. Fitzgerald added “with regards to ultimatums you have to do this and you have to do that, I think we’re above that level to be fair, they’re all well educated men now and they know what they want. If the situation is where they’re being told where you have to pick one over the other, my honest opinion on it I think it’s ridiculous, I think it has to be a personal choice and if they want to try the two fine, it may not work out but I think if they want to try it, the best of luck to them.”
Fitzgerald stated that he was very impressed with the ideas of Colm Collins and Ger Keane when they first spoke about the prospect of the Corkman getting involved. “I met Colm and Ger and I was very impressed with what they had to say about the future of Clare football so I did my own bit of research in terms of the players and they’re quiet young, very vibrant, obviously having the boys committing to the football this year has been a bonus so when I added it all up I felt there was no real downside to it for me so I was delighted to take up the challenge.”
The school teacher declared that he is hopeful the progression shown in Clare football will continue and praised the members of Colm Collins’ backroom team. “There’s a very good backroom team in place in Clare now and it’s just a matter of the lads having confidence in themselves, my job is to prepare them in terms of their football and the coaching side of it, but we’ve experts in every field up there and I would be very hopeful that there will be a very good progression over the next year or two.”
A former Cork footballer, Fitzgerald outlined what he is planning to bring to the setup as trainer. “It’s just making sure that for me anyway that training is of a high intensity, that the workrate is very high. All of my work everything is determined by the workrate, you can have all the skill in the world but if you’re not willing to work hard then your actually wasting your time in my opinion and especially at that level. There’s only one ball, thirty guys out there, what are you going to do if you don’t have the ball so I would be very much into workrate, awareness, positioning, that type of stuff and I would hope that certainly my training will be geared towards improving the lads in that area because they have the skills, I mean look at the Gary Brennan’s and these guys they’d be on any County team in Ireland but it’s just a case of missing that intensity and that’s not done overnight, it’s done over time. They’re a very committed bunch, they’re young and they’re eager for the most part, I think once they buy into it, we’ve every chance of being successful in the next year or two.”
Fresh from guiding Limerick club, Ballylanders to the Limerick Senior Football Championship title, Fitzgerald professed that he is looking forward to the coming campaign with Clare and is thrilled to be part of the management. “I’m absolutely delighted, I’ve met the lads, and Colm, Ger and Chris. There’s a good team there so we’re looking forward to it now and hopefully improve on what they did last year, substantial progress has been made and it’s just about trying to push it on the extra level now.”