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25th Mar 2024

Liam Sheedy and Donal Óg hail ‘player of the league’ for his class

Niall McIntyre

Liam Sheedy called him the ‘player of the League’ and Donal Óg Cusack described him as a ‘serious operator.’

The form of David Fitzgerald has been a positive for Clare, not just in this League campaign, but over the last number of years.

Having once struggled to nail down a spot on the team, the 27-year-old is now one of Brian Lohan’s most important players.

An All-Star award winner in 2022, Fitzgerald could just as easily have won another in 2023 having been named on The Sunday Game team of the year.

Having scored a remarkable 2-18 from play in the 2022 Championship, Fitzgerald backed it up with 0-14 from play last year. He has stepped up once again for Clare in this year’s League, scoring 1-16 from play in six games so far.

In the absence of Shane O’Donnell and Tony Kelly, the Inagh Kilnomana player has become their marquee man.

He was at his prolific best on Sunday afternoon as Clare defeated Tipperary in the League semi-final, backing up a stunning goal with three points from play.

Speaking on The Sunday Game, Donal Óg Cusack and Liam Sheedy hailed the former Fitzgibbon Cup winner with UL for his physicality and skill.

“He’s got a stride…If David Fitzgerald gets a yard on you, I don’t think anybody can catch him,” said former Tipperary manager Sheedy.

“I’ve watched him a lot throughout the League.

“He had thirteen points from play coming into this game today, then 1-3 today. He’s been the player of the league so far and let’s see if he can maintain that into the League final.”

The former Cork goalkeeper Óg Cusack, meanwhile, feels that Fitzgerald, who often lines out at midfield, is at his best when he plays at right half forward.

“That’s the best place that David Fitzgerald comes from, that right half forward position,” he said.

“Teams find it very hard to mark him in that situation. He’s a big man, he’s got savage pace and excellent hurling. He’s a serious operator.

While very impressed with Fitzgerald and Clare, Óg Cusack was less so with Tipperary, who he says look like a very ‘uncertain’ outfit at the minute.

“You’re seeing a very uncertain Tipperary going into the Championship,” he said.

“I also think, the goalkeeping situation, with Hogan and Shelly, I always feel that a goalkeeper is a long-term investment.

“I think that you need to go with your number one goalkeeper, make it very clear who it is and then back him to the hilt.”

“If you look at that Tipperary forward line, it ain’t going to strike fear into any of the Munster counties.

“It seems to me like the wrong balance, you don’t have another killers there. Other than Morris and Forde, they’re lacking that killer instinct. And on a day like today, when Forde is off-form, they’re actually toothless then.”

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