Cian Dillon has spoken about relaying the difficult news to Davy Fitzgerald last September that a number of Clare players wanted a change of management.
Fitzgerald had all but decided to step down but his mind was made up when some of the squad expressed a wish for a new figurehead. As indicated by Dillon and Fitzgerald’s warm exchanges at Sunday’s Allianz Hurling League launch, the split has been amicable.
But Dillion admitted it was a testing time for all involved. “As joint-captain under him, it definitely was. It had been pre-empted before that because he knew what the story was and he had been constantly talking to us. Then when we were chatting, it was just a case of him being resigned to the fact anyway. He’d pretty much said it to us in the dressing room in July and there wasn’t much difference in his mindset so it was just a case of ‘that’s it’ and let’s move on for both parties.”
As Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor make their league bow as joint managers in Cork this Saturday, Dillon has praised the way they go about their business. “Their working relationship is incredible. They’re highly influential businessmen as well so how they get the time to do it and their level of efficiency is something you’d have to admire. Their level of detail and planning is incredible and that feeds into the players. But mainly it’s their appetite for success. They’ve had a lot of years at U21 level and they’ve achieved a huge amount, something that hasn’t been done in Clare in the past. They’ve got serious hunger to bring that forward onto senior level.”
A change in style has also been encouraged by the pair. “I think the new managers are emphasising different things. They focus on certain aspects. They’re big on making sure our skill level is as high as it can be and transferring that to game situations. That in itself is definitely one change I can spot. We’re looking to hurl off the cuff, express ourselves, play with that freedom and do what’s natural.”
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