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He has his detractors but Fitzgerald will boost camogie profile with new Cork role

The Clare hurling legend was announced as a shock addition to the Cork camogie management.

FROM THE GALWAY hurlers to Cork camogie, it’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Davy Fitzgerald. 

davy-fitzgerald-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle Davy Fitzgerald is joining the backroom team with the Cork camogie team. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The two-time-All-Ireland-winning goalkeeper stepped down as Wexford hurling manager in July, citing the six-hour round trip from his home in Sixemilbridge as his main reason for his departure from the role.

At the time, he debated about whether to pursue another coaching position or take a break from the sidelines entirely. The news cycle of recent times has taught us that he has made up his mind on that dilemma: the intermission can wait.

After being considered for the  Galway gig, Henry Shefflin ended up getting the nod over Fitzgerald for that vacancy. No matter though, as the Clare man has found a new home with the Cork camogie team.

He’ll be working under newly appointed manager Matthew Twomey, who has succeeded Paudie Murray as the head of last year’s All-Ireland finalists.

“I’ve committed to one or two days a week as coach, it’s great I don’t have to manage,” Fitzgerald told RTÉ’s Today Show yesterday as he laid out his plans for the Cork project.

That may well be his intention, but considering what we know Fitzgerald’s colossal commitment to the game, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a more hands-on coaching approach materialise from him in 2022.

So, what can we expect from this move? Davy Fitzgerald, by his sheer presence in the sport, will certainly increase the profile of camogie. He’s a major figure in GAA and he will draw attention to a sport that’s still growing in popularity.

Recognition for camogie is expanding every year, but Fitzgerald’s involvement can act as a catalyst in that regard. That factor alone is a positive outcome to emerge from this story.

We have seen some crossover in the coaching department between hurling and camogie recently. Waterford hurling icon — and three-time All-Star — Dan Shanahan joined the Waterford camogie backroom ream in December 2019.

He had previously worked under Derek McGrath with the Waterford hurlers, where they formed a formidable combination to bring the Déise all the way to the 2017 All-Ireland final. Shanahan subsequently managed Waterford club side St Mary’s who reached the Munster junior final during his reign.

The former Waterford forward was able to bring all that knowledge and experience to the table when he linked up with the county’s camogie outfit. Shanahan’s input drew major praise from the players leading up to his departure in November of last year.

And while Waterford are still struggling to get past the All-Ireland quarter-final hurdle, the team has taken huge strides towards establishing a place among the top camogie counties.

Moving in the other direction, Conor Phelan is now part of the Kilkenny hurling backroom team having previously worked alongside the legendary Ann Downey with the Cats camogie outfit. And just last week, Limerick’s two-time All-Star Joe Quaid was appointed as manager of the Kildare camogie team.

dervla-higgins-and-siobhan-gardiner-with-ciara-osullivan-and-orla-cronin Cork contested last year's All-Ireland final against Galway. Source: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO

Fitzgerald can provide a similar contribution with Cork. With a coaching career to date that makes for encouraging reading, there’s a promising outlook ahead for Fitzgerald and Cork.

He made his mark with the Waterford hurlers after he was appointed during a turbulent period during the 2008 season, in which he came in to replace Justin McCarthy who had been sacked.

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Under Fitzgerald, Waterford navigated those choppy seas to reach the county’s first All-Ireland final since 1963. He later went on to take the reins for his home county and masterminded a surprise All-Ireland victory for Clare after an epic replay with Cork in 2013.

Among the other highlights on Fitzgerald’s CV include Fitzgibbon Cup success as the manager of Limerick IT and a Leinster SHC crown with Wexford in 2019.

All in all, Fitzgerald tends to leave a positive imprint on squads and players wherever he goes.

That being said, he has his detractors. But while criticism of a coach’s performance on the sideline is fair, and to be expected, Fitzgerald has been subjected to vitriolic and personal abuse which is indefensible.  

Controversy often finds Fitzgerald too. In 2017, during his time as Wexford boss, he was handed an 8-week ban after charging onto the pitch in the middle of a league clash with Tipperary to remonstrate with the referee. He clashed with some of the Tipp players during the incident. Another ban followed earlier this year after Fitzgerald clashed with Antrim manager Darren Gleeson.

There’s no denying that Fitzgerald is fiery character, but perhaps that’s where moving away from the manager position and into a less central role could be beneficial for him in his new job.

Either way, he will leave his mark on the Rebel county as the next chapter of his coaching career commences.


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