Clare County Board were last night in talks with Davy Fitzgerald as he prepared to step down as manager after five years. It is understood a number of phone-calls took place between chairman Joe Cooney and Fitzgerald, who is currently holidaying in South Carolina.
As things stand, Fitzgerald is still expected to announce his departure in the next day or two. However, the Sixmilebridge man was persuaded by Cooney not to make any decision until he discussed the situation with him. Clare officials also met last night in the wake of yesterday’s report the 2013 All-Ireland winning manager was set to step away having been appointed in October 2011. Fitzgerald had asked his players to discuss the direction of the group, which they did on Tuesday night.
The 45-year-old, who has been in the US since Friday, had hinted to players in the dressing room following the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Galway he was going to step away.
Although he is enticed by the prospect of working another season with coach and selector Dónal Óg Cusack, he wasn’t prepared to make a call on his position until his players had met.
Yesterday’s news followed the Clare People’s report that some players have expressed a wish for a change of management, although there is not believed to be animosity between Fitzgerald towards them in that regard. At Tuesday meeting, it is understood he enjoyed a strong majority of support among the players.
Speaking about his future last month, he said: “I have another year’s contract with Clare, we’ll see what happens. I haven’t even honestly thought about it, what I want to do. I think that’s only fair. I look back at what we’ve achieved with Clare, even over the last number of years and I’m proud of what the lads have done. I’m proud of the backroom staff, they’ve been brilliant. What we do from here, I’m not sure, but it’s been a great spin.”
Despite undergoing minor heart surgery days before, Fitzgerald was on the sideline against Galway in Semple Stadium. Earlier this month, it was announced coach Paul Kinnerk was linking up with his native Limerick for 2017, while Podge Collins has stated he will not be a dual player next season but has not yet revealed whether it will be football or hurling.
Fitzgerald this year guided Clare to their first Division 1 title in 38 years, winning 10 of 12 league and championship matches. It came after a bitterly disappointing 2015 season where Fitzgerald’s former Clare team-mate Brian Lohan called for an independent review of the senior hurling team to be chaired by Ger Loughnane.
With a year remaining on his current deal, Fitzgerald had been informed by ex-Cork keeper Cusack he was prepared to join him for a second season. At a county board meeting last week. Cooney said: “We have met with the outgoing hurling manager and he has still to make a final decision.”
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