Clare hurlers were united in deciding it was time for a change after five years of Davy Fitzgerald’s management, vice-captain Cian Dillon confirmed yesterday, but he insists it was ultimately Fitzgerald’s own decision to step down from the role.
Speaking to Clare FM yesterday, Dillon described the process that ended with Fitzgerald tendering his resignation last Wednesday.
“Davy had been in constant contact with myself and Tony (Kelly) as joint captains over the past few weeks.
“We kept an open dialogue throughout the last couple of weeks. We know he’s away on holiday since but even while he was away we were talking to him the whole time.
“When he resurfaced a few weeks ago, he was trying to get an opinion off players did they feel the need for change. He spoke to us after the Galway game that he was unsure about whether he’d commit for 2017. He reiterated that to us a couple of weeks ago.
“We set about getting the opinion of the players and that came to light last Monday. We met and spoke about our own performances, what we can incorporate into our training for next year.
“He took a day or two to make his decision. And we heard from him in the statement then that he had decided to step down.”
Dillon confirmed the players were of the opinion their progress would be better served by a new manager. “Overall, players felt after five years a change was required for next year but it was entirely up to him (Fitzgerald).”
And he insisted there was no division in the ranks.
“You can see from our performances in the last couple of years players will fight for each other on the day. It’s the same in training, same in a meeting. That’s what we have in Clare. A great bunch. That unity was instilled by the manager as well.”
But Dillon denied this was an exercise in so-called player power. “Everything was instructed by Davy and all we did was relay the info back to him.”
Dillon also accepted the players must also look at their own performances in the search for improvement.
“You need the players to step up and admit to what they did wrong. And look to do better. We constantly do that as a group. And we’re learning to do it more and more. We need to accept a lot more responsibility for the way we play.”
And he paid tribute to the work done by Fitzgerald and his management team over the last five years.
“On behalf of the players, I thank them wholly for what they’ve done and put into Clare hurling for the last few years. They’ve been great.”
Clare GAA chairman Joe Cooney has suggested players could be involved in choosing Fitzgerald’s successor, but Dillon played down that idea.
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