Davy Fitzgerald has stepped down as Clare hurling manager, confirming his departure in a statement released tonight.
Reports circulated this week that he was on the verge of walking away, having delivered a National League and All-Ireland title in his five seasons in charge.
“After this year’s All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Galway, I was undecided about my future and I indicated as much to the players in the dressing room post-match,” said Fitzgerald in his statement.
“In the weeks that followed, I asked the joint-captains (Cian Dillon and Tony Kelly) to ascertain the opinions of the wider panel on whether they would like a change of voice.
In light of the ensuing meeting and the divided opinions expressed by players, I have decided that it would be in the best interests of Clare hurling that I step down from the role of manager.”
Media reports yesterday claimed that members of the panel met recently and decided that a change in management was the best step for the coming year.
Fitzgerald added in his statement: “I will cherish the memory of seeing so many happy Clare faces when in 2013 we won what was only the county’s fourth All-Ireland title and again in Thurles last May when we were crowned League champions for the first time in 38 years.
The Clare players were heroes on both days and it is my belief they will lift Liam MacCarthy again in the near future.
I was not asked to step down. The decision is entirely my own. In taking this decision however, I wish to reaffirm my absolute love and passion for Clare hurling.
I want to express my sincere thanks to the respective backroom teams which have served alongside me for the past five seasons. It was a real pleasure to work with people of the highest calibre.
I want to thank the Clare County Board for their tremendous support, Pat O’Donnell for his constant and generous sponsorship and support, and the players for being a key part of my life over the past five years.
I want to thank the supporters and acknowledge the many people who travelled great distances to support their county.
I leave the Clare job with a heavy heart but full of confidence that there will be further great hurling days for The Banner County,” Fitzgerald concluded.
Fitzgerald won the All-Ireland in the second of his five seasons in charge, but since then the Banner failed to reach those same heights.
Both 2014 and 2015 were extremely frustrating for players, management and fans alike and while this year was better, with a rare League title win, it still finished up long before Croke Park in September.
He is the only man to win All-Ireland titles as a player, in 1995 and ’97, and manager with Clare