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Fitzgerald proud of young Clare players

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Clare boss Davy Fitzgerald paid tribute to his young side following their seven-point victory over Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday.

I'm so proud of these young lads. They are an example to everyone playing the game because they work so hard.
Davy Fitzgerald

A young Banner County side delivered a performance of class and maturity to power into the All-Ireland final against Cork, and Fitzgerald was effusive in his praise when speaking to the media after the game.

"I'm so proud of these young lads," he said. "They are an example to everyone playing the game because they work so hard. Never say die. Have they taken a lot of stick in the last year and a half? We all have. And they just kept coming back.

"It's just nice when you know if you ask them to do something, they'll do it. And even though you'll get a beating, and I can remember a beating we got this year - and I might tell ye again exactly what happened the day after - it was very interesting, it was unreal, but that's for another day."

While he was delighted with the display, he did highlight a few areas to work on for the final, particularly focusing on the amount of scoring chances Limerick had in the game.

"They (Clare) were so mature outside there today and to get over a semi-final was fantastic. Was it a super performance? You (the media) might say it was but I don't think it was because we gave Limerick too many shooting opportunities. They missed a lot of scores in the first half and if we do that to Cork, Cork will punish us."

Looking ahead to the All-Ireland final against Cork on September 8, Fitzgerald, who won two All-Irelands with Clare as a player in 1995 and 1997, said he would make it a priority to keep the players focused on the task at hand, regardless of how much hype builds up in the county ahead of the game.

"I know what comes with an All-Ireland, and I could see it in the last week in Clare probably. It took us a while to get going down in Clare as regards getting the flags and the bunting but it definitely took off over the last week and it kind of reminded me of the mid 1990s, you know?

"We're in tough times. Has this given people a lift in Clare? It has. I think that's fantastic. But my job with the team is September 8. We'll have a few bits of PR to do here and there and we have to do them. But at the same time, there is only one job, and that's to prepare for September 8, and they've got to remember that too.

"All the sideshows don't matter."

FoUr of the Clare team that started against Limerick (David McInerney, Podge Collins, Tony Kelly and Colm Galvin) will be involved with the Clare U21 team that takes on Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final next Saturday, while panellists Seadna Morey, Aaron Cunningham, Shane O'Donnell and Peter Duggan will also be involved.

Fitzgerald says he fully supports those players playing a full part with the U21 squad, despite the All-Ireland senior hurling final now looming large on the county's radar.

"I want them to go out and do their very best," he insisted. "The 21s deserve a fair crack of the whip and that was our approach after the quarter-final. We'll be releasing them to the U21s straightaway this week, they'll work with the 21s all week. They will not come near us so they won't.

"They deserve to play in their own age group. That's my belief and that's my feeling. I'll be asking them to focus completely on that because I think they have to focus on that. We actually have 14 of them training with us since last November."

Finally, Fitzgerald, who is well known for his fiery demeanour on the sideline, said he felt unusually calm throughout Sunday's victory - perhaps a reflection of just how composed and assured Clare looked for the full game.

"If you want me to be quiet as anything on the sideline, it probably wouldn't be any fun for ye if I was that way. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I make no apologies for it," he said.

"Even though I have to say myself today, I felt pretty calm. If you watch me for most of it. If I'm not happy, you'd know about it but otherwise I felt pretty calm to tell you the honest to god truth."

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