All-Ireland winning manager Davy Fitzgerald has broken his silence on the tunnel altercation with Clare Champion journalist Peter O’Connell, claiming his outburst at O’Connell stemmed from "three years of continuous criticism".
The row broke out following Saturday’s All-Ireland hurling qualifier at Cusack Park when an irate Fitzgerald accused the journalist of “trying to destroy Clare hurling and succeeding”.
Fitzgerald said O’Connell’s coverage of the Clare hurling team since his appointment back in 2012 had been unbalanced and unfair, alleging the journalist carried an agenda against the All-Ireland champions.
“Despite what Mr O’Connell may contend, this is not about one article, as he has publicly stated,” Fitzgerald told the Clare Champion. “It is about three years of continuous criticism of myself and my management team. I accept that every management team is open to criticism but, in the interests of natural justice, surely his opinion pieces have to be balanced and fair.
“Based on our achievements as a management team, I feel it is fair to state our record should speak for itself. But we feel Mr O’Connell appears to have an agenda. Why are we subjected to such minute scrutiny when he doesn’t apply the same criteria to the minor, senior, intermediate and his own U21 management set-ups in the other code? It is fair to point out from the above comments that his criticism is not balanced, considering our results.
“I have contacted his editor on numerous occasions with a view to creating more equitable and fair-minded content in his articles. On seeing him last Saturday, I decided I was going to address the issues face-to-face. In my opinion, he did not handle my comments to him in a very good manner, which can be seen by his actions afterwards.”
O’Connell alleged he had been “forcibly pushed around the corner” by County Board secretary Pat Fitzgerald when attempting to move towards the Clare manager.
“He put his two hands on me... and I was verbally abused by Pat as well,” said O’Connell.
The secretary denied the accusation: “I saw Peter O’Connell and he had a look of vengeance and his teeth were clinched. He was tearing down the tunnel where there were women and children. There was an issue of health and safety. I restrained him and removed him outside the gate and asked him not to come back.”
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