Fitzy, the man they either love or hate, driven to succeed
THE BEST summation of Davy Fitzgerald arrives near the end of his new book, ‘At All Costs’, ghost written by journalist Vincent Hogan, and it is provided by his long-time management team colleague, Seoirse Bulfin.
‘I often say Fitzy’s the human version of Marmite. People either love him or hate him,’ says the man who has spent a decade and a half working with the current Wexford Senior hurling boss after they initially linked up on the Fitzgibbon scene with L.I.T.
It’s an entirely apt comparison, and Bulfin adds another observation that will be shared by the majority of readers from outside the former star goalkeeper’s native county.
‘In Clare, they love cutting the back off him, which I could never figure out.’
Fitzy sets about trying to make sense of some of the reasons for this in what is actually his second book, having previously outlined his playing career which, of course, reached the heights of All-Ireland Senior glory in 1995 and 1997.
He can at least trace his falling out with former star full-back Brian Lohan to some spats they had when both were rival managers on the third level scene.
He finds it more difficult to work out why Jamesie O’Connor seems to be so keen on giving him such a hard time in his newspaper columns, and I must say that I have often pondered that question myself.
A couple of things are most apparent in this enjoyable read that will give Wexford supporters a better insight into the character of a man now heading into his third year as our manager.
Firstly, Fitzy places a very strong value on loyalty, and to that end it’s easy to understand why the visit of a delegation of players from the Model county to his home near Sixmilebridge a few months ago convinced him to stay on for another season.
Secondly, the one thing he abhors above all else is betrayal by people he either played with or managed over the years. I can certainly empathise with that, as I feel the exact same way from my own time in charge of one particular backroom team.
The book deals with the 2018 campaign in the prologue, and it was certainly a difficult day for Davy for more than one reason when our bid for honours ended in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh against his native county, fast developing into a graveyard for our hurling hopes.
There’s no point giving rival teams and managers potential ammunition to be used against us in 2019, and I didn’t detect anything specific that could fall into that category.
I also reckon that another observation by former Clare manager Fr. Harry Bohan is bang on the money. ‘I have a theory that the bullying of his childhood eventually worked in Davy’s favour,’ his good friend notes.
‘It made him determined not to be put down. It hurt him so badly, it gave him defiance. Nobody would best him again.’
Never shy about expressing an opinion, Fitzy doesn’t hold back in dealing with the issues and personality clashes that marked his time as manager of Waterford and Clare respectively.
And while his health was poor when he decided to take the Wexford job, his energy and enthusiasm quickly returned and he’s clearly a man hell bent on bringing success to the county.
Let’s hope he has more of a positive nature to write about by the end of 2019, and one thing is abundantly clear from this book: if we fail again, it certainly won’t be from a lack of trying on his part. ALAN AHERNE
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