THE SPORTING DIARY: The madness of the intercounty manager - who would take the job?

with Sports Editor Peter Campbell

Peter Campbell


Peter Campbell

THE SPORTING DIARY: The madness of the intercounty manager - who would take the job?

I’m just after finishing my ‘Christmas book’, the story of Davy Fitzgerald, ‘At All Costs’, Clare All-Ireland winning hurling goalkeeper from 1995 and 1997 and more recently manager of Waterford, Clare and Wexford.

From the outside we see Davy as a very volatile individual and the book doesn’t do anything to change that view, but it does give an insight into someone who has many other strings to his bow.

His record is impressive, both as a player and manager, but what comes across so strongly in the book is his honesty. Davy doesn’t do bullshit or subterfuge - it’s all out in the open - even his frayed relationships with some of his former players and manager.

But having completed the book you just wonder why anybody would take on an intercounty job at the moment. After winning an All-Ireland and a National League as manager of Clare, he was more or less forced out by forces working against him in the Banner county.

But less than two weeks after stepping down from Clare, he was installed as manager of Wexford, after the powers that be in the Model county went to great lengths to get him to commit.

And all of this happened at a time when Davy’s health issues (with his heart) would have been telling him he should be taking it easy.

It just seems to be a drug. It couldn’t be linked to money, because no amount of money would compensate for the hours and the hassle that comes with being an intercounty manager.

Just take Donegal manager, Declan Bonner, this week. After taking his side to Newry on Sunday last for the second game in the Bank of Ireland Dr. McKenna Cup, he probably had a training session on Tuesday night, another game against Cavan on Wednesday night. There could be another training session on Thursday night; a game against Gaoth Dobhair on Saturday night in Ardara and a possible Dr. McKenna Cup semi-final on Sunday.

On top of that, a story broke in a national newspaper on Tuesday morning that his captain, Michael Murphy, had undergone minor knee surgery and would be out for the beginning of the National League.

His ‘phone would have lit up when that news broke, so he was forced to get the Donegal PRO to issue a press release saying that he would be unavailable until after the Cavan game on Wednesday night.

The Murphy story is just one of those things that the manager has to deal with and Bonner probably wasn’t happy that the story was out. Davy Fitzgerald talks about a similar experience in Clare where he wasn’t happy with one local journalist.

I often wonder would it be better for county managers to be ahead of the posse with those things and just issue a statement, throw in a couple of quotes and they would be in control of the story, rather than the story being leaked and then half the country’s media ringing them looking for a comment.

Anyway, here’s hoping that Michael Murphy will be back soon as we are just a couple of weeks away now from the start of the National League and a trip to Davy Fitzgerald’s back yard in Clare.

If their footballers have half the passion that their former hurling manager has, then it could be a tricky enough assignment.

Sad time for GAA

It has been a sad month for the GAA with the loss of so many great people and it seems to be an endless stream. Paddy ‘Fenny’ McBride of Downings went to his reward after a very short illness before Christmas and we hadn’t reached the New Year when we learned of the sudden death of Dermot ‘Rocky’ Gallagher in Ballintra, short of his 50th birthday.

In the past week we have lost one of the great Gaels of Donegal and Fermanagh, Jimmy Mulrone. Gentleman Jim was known far and wide and his great love of everything GAA, in Donegal, Fermanagh and his dearly beloved Devenish was well celebrated by the family as the house of his son, Sylvester, was decked in the colours at his wake.

Also this week, another quiet gentleman of the GAA, Edward Joseph Maguire, of St. Naul’s and Inver, was taken to his eternal reward after a short illness. He was a classmate in Donegal Vocational School in the late 1960s and will forever be remembered as a friend. Whenever you wanted a report or information, Edward Joseph was the best source.