Galway fans' frosty reception for Davy Fitz doesn't make any sense
Davy Fitzgerald's involvement in inter-county hurling is set to extend to a 36th year, when, this Wednesday night, he's set be announced as the new Galway senior hurling manager.
The Clare Echo have brought the news, with the local paper having it that Fitzgerald, along with a Clare-based management team of Louis Mulqueen and Mike Deegan and Fergal Lynch will take over the post. Mulqueen was Fitzgerald's right-hand-man when they brought Liam MacCarthy to Clare in 2013 while Lynch, who still lines out for his club Clooney-Quin, was a member of the Clare panel that day.
The Sixmilebridge club-man's record as a manager is impressive yet his whole package is divisive. Indeed, when he was first mentioned as the next Galway manager it would be no exaggeration to say that the people of Galway spat their collective dummies out.
'Absolutely not,' said one fella in the comments section on SportsJOE.ie. He was the most diplomatic of all the responders. 'Anyone but Davy, literally anyone,' began another, before he went off in a direction that, one hundred times out of one hundred, gets your comment deleted off the page. There was another who claimed that, and this is a good one, 'Galway have suffered long enough at the hands of Clare immigrants...'
You get the picture now.
That a west of Ireland border-based-conflict existed we were unawares, where it comes from we're none-the-wiser but from there and from anywhere else that has mentioned Davy Fitzgerald in connection with the Galway hurling job, the response has been unanimous.
From a Galway point of view, it has been absolutely unequivocal, to the effect that the Clare-man is not the right man for the job. That in itself, a Clare-man managing a Galway team could be enough of an explainer, it would be enough of an explainer if it wasn't for the fact that three of their last five managers have come from outside the county.
It would be enough of an explainer too, if the same people who refute any connection with Davy weren't so welcoming to the idea of an Anthony Daly bolt from the outside, especially when you consider that Davy's managerial record, both at club and county level, puts Daly's in the shade.
But Davy's not the right man. Galway hurling is too good for Davy. Davy can get lost. We don't need him. We'll tell you why you do.
He always gets a bounce out of teams
It was in 2008 when Fitzgerald took on his first job as an inter-county manager. That was the year he steered Waterford to their first All-Ireland final in 45 years. In 2011, he became the Clare manager and having earned promotion to Division 1A in his first season, it only took him two more to deliver the county's first All-Ireland title in 16 years. Just like Waterford, Wexford too were struggling when Davy took on the job in 2017, the year they defeated Kilkenny in the championship for the first time in 13 summers.
Galway are at a low-ebb. Last year was their worst championship show in a long-time and more than anything else, they need a bounce.
Galway need a shake-up too
Fitzgerald is never afraid to take down a big name, just ask Waterford legends Ken McGrath and Dan Shanahan who, unceremoniously and perhaps riskily, Fitzgerald shoved to the side once he felt they had no more to give. Ken McGrath later admitted that, around then, the light was beginning to die on his own career which, more than anything else, tells you that whether it brought heat or put him under unnecessary pressure, Davy was acting with the team's best interests at heart,
There are many within Galway who feel that some players have out-stayed their welcome on the team. No better man to shake things up and like he did in Clare, to make the most of Galway's successful underage teams of recent years.
Galway have the hurlers for his short-passing plan
You couldn't accuse this Galway team of lacking skill and with his fondness for a short-passing game-plan, Davy would make the most of these gifted hurlers, their brilliant first touches and their laser-like striking and passing.
Fitzgerald brought Wexford within a puck of a ball of the 2019 All-Ireland final and, when you look at it in the cold light of day, Galway have better and more suitable hurlers than Wexford did for his style of play. Think Cathal Mannion, Joseph Cooney and Conor Whelan and you've a match made in heaven.
Makes teams extremely fit, Galway looked off pace this year
Whether Galway were over-cooked or under-cooked, there's no denying the fact that they looked off the pace this year. Davy specialises in having his teams hopping off the ground on the big day - though Wexford fell short of this standard in 2020 in particular - he's gotten this aspect of management right more than most.
And while many are saying that, on the back of his 2017 success, Micheál Donoghue should be a shoo-in, there's another side to that argument. Galway playing at 2017 level wouldn't beat Limerick in 2021. Galway in 2022, meanwhile, are without Joe Canning while the other stars of that triumph will be five years older. No, what Galway need is something new and something revolutionary.
So when they hear the name Davy Fitz, instead of turning their noses up, instead of saying they're 'too good for that style of hurling,' Galway fans might be better off opening their arms and rolling out the red carpet for the best man for the job.