Secretary of Clare GAA, Pat Fitzgerald in his annual report to County Convention which takes place this Wednesday has expressed his disappointment with the level of criticism directed at the former county senior hurling management following their departure from the championship earlier this year.
Fitzgerald recounted the exploits of all county teams in his report which will be read out at Clare GAA’s Annual Convention this week. Pat whose son Davy Fitzgerald recently stepped down as manager of the Banner’s senior hurlers congratulated both the senior hurlers and footballers on historic seasons.
In his report Pat highlights the view that Davy failed to receive the backing of certain individuals once he assumed the position in the winter of 2011. He praised the two time All-Star for the manner of his departure which eliminated “the possibility of acrimony, conflict and bitter division”.
An extract of the report seen by The Clare Herald gives Fitzgerald’s views on the campaign of the county’s senior hurlers and footballers.
“While much was made of the failure of the Clare hurlers to make it to Croke Park, events at the end of the season shouldn’t cloud the magnificent achievement of the team in winning the national hurling league division 1 title. It is only Clare’s fourth time winning the title and their first in almost forty years and that achievement should not be lost on people.
“Clare went through the entire league campaign undefeated and in the final eventually got the better of Waterford after a replay, 1-23 to 2-19. Tony Kelly’s injury time point was worthy of winning any game. Waterford then turned the tables on Clare in the championship and the Banner County bowed out at the opening quarter-final stage when well beaten by a physically stronger Galway side in Thurles.
“Following their elimination, people turned to social media to have shots at management and basically launch a campaign for change. Davy’s tactical approach was criticised, the same one that had guided them to All-Ireland and national league titles and he appeared under constant scrutiny. Yet the two goals Clare leaked to Galway were horrendous defensive blunders. And for those the players have to ship the blame.
“While Davy had a year to run on his tenure, he was swimming against the tide as a cohort of people, who never really endorsed his appointment, pushed the keyboards to stir up opposition to him seeing out his tenure.
“When some of the players indicated their wishes for change, he bowed out in a very dignified manner, thereby eliminating the possibility of acrimony, conflict and bitter division. However in my opinion there are a very small cohort of players which need to analyse their own performance and commitment over recent years.
“All decision making has to have the imprimatur of the delegates and the clubs they represent. That’s the way it has always been and that’s the way it will remain.
“Once Davy signalled his departure that opened the door for Gerry O’Connor and Donal Moloney, who enjoyed phenomenal success at U21 level winning three All-Ireland titles, to step forward. Just like Davy was entitled to his crack at the Clare job in 2012, so too are Donal and Gerry. They have very strong credentials and they were entitled to the job on their track record.
“I can assure them that they have the full support and backing of the county board and whatever help and co-operation can be afforded them will be forthcoming”.
Pat’s report also details a memorable year for the Colm Collins managed county football team. He feels football in the county is on the up and that playing in Division 2 of the National Football League will be of massive benefit
“What a year 2016 was for the footballers. They won back to back promotions, won the Division 3 league title and reached the quarter-final of the All-Ireland championship, bowing out to Kerry who had previously knocked them out of the Munster championship.
“By any stretch of the imagination, it was a memorable year and Clare’s progress in recent years has been immense. It wasn’t that long ago when they were languishing in the nether regions, down in the basement but thanks to a professional and organised approach, and players buying into that approach and committing to the cause, Clare football is certainly on an upward trend”
“Admittedly, Kerry were in a different class in the championship to Clare and, but that shouldn’t diminish what the footballers have achieved this season. They’ve taken massive forward strides under Colm Collins and competing in Division 2 next season should help raise their standards even further as they play ball with some of the stronger counties”.
“The immediate goal will be to retain their status and improve the standard and speed of their game. Clare also benefitted from the coaching of Mick Bohan, who had previously served his apprenticeship with Dublin. Mick struck up a great rapport with players who were effusive in their praise for his man management skills and training drills. Unfortunately he stepped down because of family commitments and his replacement Alan Flynn of Galway, will have a hard act to follow”.