*Clare’s David Fitzgerald. Photograph: Chris Copley
Leaders will be required in abundance as Clare prepare to take on Limerick in Sunday’s Munster SHC qualifier, David Fitzgerald is hopeful to be chief among them for the men in saffron and blue.
A strange atmosphere clouds the beginning of the GAA inter-county championships, not just because of the pandemic but also with the time of year in which the games are beginning. “It nearly feels like we never took a break, we’re back since the middle of September so just over a month. It is very unusual to be preparing for a Munster championship game in October,” David Fitzgerald stated as the hours edge closer to Sunday’s eagerly awaited clash.
When Clare resumed county training in September, Fitzgerald recalled that there was little fuss regarding their return. “The general consensus was that it was safe to come back in, case numbers have been rising in recent weeks with a lot of uncertainty so it has been bit difficult to see if the championship was going ahead and what protocols would be put in place”.
As the public narrative has changed, the Inagh/Kilnamona clubman insisted that he remains happy to be a part of the action. “Any day you get to play for Clare is great, it is unusual that it is on so late in the year, the GAA had their heart set on the championship going ahead. There was a survey last week from the GPA and over half the players voted to play. The lack of testing as mentioned by the Louth captain is a concern but I’m happy to play”.
Equally, he is as content whether it is lining out in defence or attack, having done so at club and county level. It is expected that the UL and DCU graduate will form part of the forward line for Brian Lohan’s men when they face off with near neighbours Limerick.
Added to the county panel in 2016 by then manager and namesake Davy Fitzgerald, the St Flannan’s College past pupil has found the changing faces on the squad this year to be “interesting”. “You see lots of new guys coming in, with the U20s during the week you see Cian Galvin, Mark Rodgers and Paddy Donnellan those guys played excellent and recently joined the panel, it is interesting to see guys moving on and younger lads coming in and to see what they can contribute”.
His first season saw Clare claim the National Hurling League title and should they overcome John Kiely’s outift this weekend he will have a second league medal, the doubling-up of the fixture is “another interesting aspect,” Fitzgerald noted. “Munster championship is the main focus but it is unusual that you are playing Munster championship and have the opportunity to win a league title”.
Working as a lease manager with Shannon based Stratos, David has been working from Inagh since March. The change of environment for training has been welcome but has led to certain frustrations. “It has been good meeting back up with players. I know it’s difficult at the minute but it is frustrating arriving into training, you train and jump straight back into the car, you’ve no access to dressing rooms or showers which is a bit of a pain but we’ve to get on with it”.