Finding the real Davy Fitz

Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald lifted the lid on his personal life in an interview with RTÉ Radio yesterday

On his son Colm

“He would be around a lot of the team stuff we do. It hasn’t always been easy for him — there have been a lot of instances where he has been targeted. In one or two matches he played himself recently, it was given to him about his dad and what he (opponent) thought of him. And another match or two in the stand... playing Laois, he (Colm) was behind me... two minutes into the game, this supporter stood up and said exactly what he thought of me. He (Colm) said: ‘why are they saying that, Dad? You’re doing your best.’ He’s a lovely young fella, a fella I’m really proud of. In a game he played, it was done, which I was a bit disappointed about. My thing would be, when you’re out there playing a game, give it good and hard. You’re going to have to take it good and hard. I wouldn’t be gone on the other stuff.”

On childhood bullying

“It was a very tough time in my life and I suppose, it could have had a very bad effect on me. Luckily, I took it the other way. There was a two or three-year period where I had a lot of lads picking on me, especially on the bus going to school, and coming back from school. I remember one evening, getting my shirt pulled off me and they writing all over my body and throwing my shoes out the window. It got to a stage (where), instead of taking the bus from Ennis back to Sixmilebridge, I used to take a bus from Ennis to Shannon and thumb home. It wasn’t nice and it’s something, even now, I try watch out for.

I hate to see people picking on anyone else. The lads I would have gone to school with would play soccer on a Friday. They never invited me but they did this Friday and I thought it was great. When I went in, I got kicked, battered and bruised all over. The only reason they got me in was to have a go at me. I would have kept it to myself a good bit. My parents would have been great but it’s amazing. I went to a school, I won’t say where, three or four years ago, talking about bullying. On the way out, this kid came to me and told me how he was feeling. This young kid hadn’t had anyone to talk to. I, in turn, said it to the principal. This poor kid was only crying out for someone to talk to. I was so glad that he came out to me and said it. One thing that I would really encourage — if you’re feeling any way down, please talk to someone.”

Why he was subjected to bullying

“I don’t know. Maybe I was doing ok at hurling when I was younger and making a lot of teams. I would have been pretty quiet and reserved. When I go out and talk to young people, when I go out coaching, I watch out for that (bullying). We’re all the same. No matter how much talent or money we have, it doesn’t matter. We came into this life with no money and we’ll leave with no money. We should treat people with respect —– it’s something I would be very conscious of. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.”

Impact bullying has had on him

“It makes me fight for what I believe in. I’m not going to give into things. If I believe in something strongly, I’ll fight my case. You shouldn’t give in to something just because someone says it’s right. If you believe in something, stay with it, that’s my belief. We all have feelings. I’ve got letters over the last few months that have been pretty nasty. Does it affect me? It does a small bit. But I don’t take it in. These people don’t know you properly (so) I just forget about it.”

On relationship with his father Pat, Clare board secretary

“Dad is unreal. He’s special. (But) Trust me, me and Dad would row every week. The amount of work he does is incredible. At times, he gets a lot of stick but he sticks to his guns and he’s very supportive of me. But what Dad would probably do... he wouldn’t say too much. ‘Do what you’re doing, stay doing what you’re doing.’”

Helping the sick and disabled

“We talk a lot at training about how other people are. A friend of mine, Olive O’Loughlin, asked me would I go to see a great (Clare) supporter in Dublin, who wasn’t well and who hadn’t long to go. I wasn’t expecting how bad he would be when I arrived at the Mater. His last half hour was spent talking about Clare hurling. I was probably only gone out the door 15 minutes and Noel passed away. I remember going back and telling the guys, ‘do you realise what you mean (to people)?’ ‘Noel was talking about the Tony Kellys, Podge Collins, Brendan Buglers, talking about ye boys with his last breaths, (so) don’t be nervous about a game of hurling, go and express yourselves’. One of the lads (on the way home from Dublin on Sunday) saw this young guy in Cratloe in a wheelchair and wanted to stop the bus. And a few of them wanted to call to Carrigoran (House) nursing home on the way back. Everybody is important. To take a bit of time is no harm.”

Why some don’t like him

“I don’t know — you’d have to ask them that. I’m just me. You wear your heart on your sleeve. I can’t help how I am — my feelings come out. I’m not one of those people who puts on shows for anyone. I am who I am. What people think about me any more doesn’t bother me. The people close to me, people I live with, my partner Sharon, son Colm, Mam and Dad, people close to me and my team (matter).

“What people think of me outside that, I can’t do anything about. I try to be as nice and courteous to everyone as I possibly can.”

When told Waterford people hadcontacted show to wish him well

“To this day, I have a lot of friends in Waterford. The time I spent there, I really loved. We won a Munster final in 2010, which I’m very proud of. I was told I was wasting my time with an older team but we did pretty well down there.

Before the All-Ireland, the amount of cards and texts I got from Waterford (was incredible).“I’d like to thank them so much for a great time, and one I’ll never forget. Lovely people.”

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