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Management risk is paying off for Clare - Colm Galvin

Colm Galvin (forefront) admits it was a risk pairing Davy Fitzgerland and Donal Og Cusack on the Clare management team  
Paul Keane

COLM GALVIN has acknowledged that pairing up Davy Fitzgerald and Donal Óg Cusack in the Clare hurling management team was a bold move many might have seen as a recipe for disaster.

Banner county boss Fitzgerald was under considerable pressure after last year’s Championship, which ended with an early exit for the second summer running following their All-Ireland success of 2013. His response was to reach out to Cusack, a legendary figure in Cork, but a bitter rival from their own playing days when they were rival goalkeepers in Munster.

Cusack’s addition was part of a wider management team overhaul, with 30 different figures now directly answerable to Fitzgerald as they attempt to reinstate Clare as the game’s brand leaders. The early signs have been hugely positive in 2016, with Clare securing promotion from Division 1B of the Allianz National League and qualifying for Sunday’s overall final against Waterford.

“They both have big ideas but, to be honest, they work so well together,” said midfielder Galvin of the management duo. 

“People were probably thinking, ‘this is a recipe for disaster’, but it hasn’t been. They both listen to each other’s opinions, including the forwards coach. Donal mainly works with the backs. From the goalie’s view, he obviously knows what’s going on as a former ’keeper himself and he’s very good tactically. Davy tries to work a bit more with the forwards, so they don’t clash too much, but they both really bring great ideas to the table. They’re a great combination together.”

Cusack described in his autobiography how he fell out with Fitzgerald in 2005 when they were competing for the number one jersey for Munster in the interprovincial series. Fitzgerald generally has a combustible reputation, though Galvin said it’s at odds with the reality.

“I suppose the first year Davy took over, we were sort of going, ‘This lad is mad’” admitted Galvin. 

“But then the last year or two... like, you only see the side of Davy at the side of the field, whereas Davy off the field is a very different character. He’s very calm, very mellow, very easy to talk to. You see him when he’s animated. And to be fair, it’s pure and utter passion.

“I’d say he has the biggest passion for the game that I’ve come across and he brings that out in the players. Even after five years or whatever, you wouldn’t be really sick of listening to him because he brings such passion to the table.”

Galvin scored five points from midfield in the semi-final win over Kilkenny. His carefree style of play sums up the team’s general attitude this year as they’ve played with a free and unencumbered spirit, marking themselves out as serious All-Ireland contenders again.

Galvin (23) is happy to be part of it because it’s exactly 12 months to the day since he removed himself from the panel and decided to go travelling. He ended up in Boston and, though he only spent two months before returning, he didn’t know that initially and worried how the bout of wanderlust would go down with Fitzgerald.

“It was tough enough alright to tell the management team, much more so than making the flight arrangements,” said Galvin. 

“It was tough for about two hours but, after that, Davy...  look, to be fair to him, I can’t say a bad word, he took it fairly well. He was very good about it. He didn’t have any negativity towards me, he was very positive. He said, ‘look, if you want to come back in there will be no problem’ and that was a brilliant thing for him to have said. 

“It made me go away with ease and, also, it didn’t make me not want to come back. That’s probably more of a reason why I did come back after a short enough while.”

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