Davy Fitzgerald reveals making the decision to leave Clare gave him a "sense of relief"
Fitzgerald lead Clare to All-Ireland glory in 201315:13 Monday 5 December 2016, 15:13 5 Dec 2016
Davy Fitzgerald has had a tumultuous 2016, of that there's no doubt. From his health issues to stepping away from Clare despite winning the league, there were ups and downs aplenty for the man from Sixmilebridge.
Although it came as a shock to many fans, speaking to Vincent Hogan in the Irish Independent, the new Wexford manager revealed that stepping away from his native county was an easy decision, once he knew that there was a change needed.
Fitzgerald revealed to Hogan that he remembers asking the panel, immediately after the loss to Galway in July, whether or not they felt that their journey together may have come to an end.
"Once I knew there was a split, that was enough for me," he told the Independent. "Five years is a long time and I'd felt in my own head after the Galway game that, maybe, that was it. There was a lot of talk afterwards about the players having meetings, but they only had a meeting when I asked them to.
"And, when I heard of the split, it was easy to make the decision. And, being honest, once I did I kind of got a sense of relief."
That sense came from the fact that, with such longstanding ties within the county, there were some delegates who were ready to stand against him for whatever reason - some of which may have had nothing to do with what was going on out on the field.
"There was a lot going on that I had nothing to do with. You'd have one or two fellas going into county board meetings and they weren't there to help Clare hurling in any way. They were there with agendas. It might have been someone who'd had a run-in with my dad. He might have suspended them. Now they were there to pick at whatever they could pick at. And it was just niggling, niggling away the whole time.
"Then you had a few fellas I played with who, for whatever reason, never supported me. To say I'm disappointed with those people would be to put it mildly."
Citing his success in his time in the role, the former manager stated that he still believes Clare will lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup again in the near future, and that there was very little bad blood with the majority of the playing panel.
"I might have been personally gutted with the behaviour of maybe two or three who I think lost their way a small bit, having been led by their dads, but the vast majority are phenomenal people.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie
"I will say it took us a while to deal with winning the All-Ireland, but look at Tipp in 2010. It took them a while to deal with winning that All-Ireland too. Some would say it maybe took them six years!
"Listen, I think Clare will win another All-Ireland very soon. And I'd love to see it. But, if you take Clare over the last 140 years, the last five are right up there. If I wanted to stay, basically I could have. Would two or three players have chosen not to play for me? Quite possible. There was a lot of interference coming from their parents.
"Personally, I think they should leave these guys alone and allow them grow up themselves."
Turning his attention to his new job with Wexford, he told Hogan that there was a bit of a decision to be made, especially taking into consideration the health troubles that he has already had this year.
Fitzgerald had two angioplasty stints inserted in St. Vincent's hospital in Dublin in July, after originally being admitted to a clinic in Galway to treat the condition.
With a long round trip facing him several times a week now for training, he stated that this year has given him the clearest indication yet that he is "maybe not as invincible as I thought".
"People hear about my health issues and say, 'Sure he goes mad on the sideline!,'" added Fitzgerald, "but that's got nothing to do with it. It's just my family history [...] I am more conscious of it. I'd like to be around for a long time to come."
"What I would say is that hurling isn't the stress in my life. Hurling is a release [...] If I can stay healthy - and that's very important to me - I'd like to stay involved. I'd love to make a difference for Wexford because I know what it would mean to them. I'll certainly give them everything I've got, but I'd ask them to be patient."
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