Clare's David Fitzgerald more interested in Wexford challenge than getting one over namesake

Clare's David Fitzgerald

Yes, he shares his name with the opposing manager. No, he doesn’t know if he was named after the former Clare manager and goalkeeper — he was born just six months after the Sixmilebridge man’s 1995 success with the Banner.

And yes David Fitzgerald has been mistaken for him.

“Some lad texted me one day asking for a challenge match,” he smiles. “I just said sorry wrong number. Stuff like that has happened.”

Fitzgerald was also introduced to the senior panel by his namesake. He also gave him his Championship debut in 2016 and the senior man’s insight into the group will be valuable to Wexford but Fitzgerald the younger highlights what he feels is a distinction.

He does (have knowledge of Clare) but when you look back Paul Kinnerk was with him and he is with Limerick now. You could have said the same about Limerick.

“We were lucky to beat them. Regardless of who is over any team, it’s about the players once you step inside the white line. “He was only with us two years ago. It will be unusual alright. But you are playing Wexford, you are not playing against him. It’s down to the players.”

Clare find themselves heading to Cork for the second July in a row having lost to the county in a Munster final.

Hopes were high wrongs would be righted this time around only for Clare to come unstuck in the second half.

“We are still taking the positives out of the Munster Championship. To beat Limerick, Tipp, and Waterford was massive for us. It built up massive momentum. Granted, the Munster final result wasn’t what we had hoped for. But we can’t dwell on that now we have to look ahead.”

The 22-year-old argues the defeat won’t halt the momentum built in winning three games on the bounce.

Lads are still positive. If you told us before the Munster campaign you were going to beat Tipp in Thurles, Limerick, and Waterford you would have gladly taken that.

“Granted, we obviously wanted to win it but you can’t look back, you have to look forward.”

For supporters, the traipse to Cork is a relatively long run and they weren’t large in their numbers for the team’s defeat there in May.

But there has since been a reconnection between the side and their followers and Fitzgerald hopes they will turn out in their droves on Saturday as they did in Thurles.

The choice of venue, where Clare have lost both of their games there since its reopening, hasn’t gone down too well among fans but Fitzgerald isn’t bothered.

“We actually like the stadium. It’s a nice surface. Seamus Harnedy commented last night saying it’s in great condition. We look forward to going down there.”

Beat Wexford and Clare return to Croke Park for the first time in five years, a pitch they’ve been regularly told would suit them.

That was our ambition at the beginning of the year to get back to Croke Park because the last team to play there was Ballyea. A few of the Ballyea lads, that’s it since 2013.

“You have to earn the right to be there. We haven’t done so over the past few seasons. We have to play well on Saturday and know that’s going to be a huge challenge. Wexford are saying the same.

“If they get over us they are in Croke Park so it’s definitely something we have to blot out and take this game as it comes.”

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