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Fitz: Clare weren't fazed by Cats
30 Mar 2015 10:10
Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald said he was "gutted" to lose to Kilkenny in their Allianz Hurling League Division 1A relegation play-off as he thought his side were more than a match for their better-fancied opponents.
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Fitzgerald's team led for most of the game at Nowlan Park before being pipped by a late Cillian Buckley point as Kilkenny won 1-18 to 1-17.
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"I'm absolutely gutted," he told RTÉ Sport. "I think we were the better team. But fair play to Kilkenny, they got there in the end. Hats off to them.
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"I'm happy with our performance. I've no complaints but it's disappointing. I really felt coming down here we were going to win, I really did. I even knew playing against them we'd be okay, because it suits the way we play.
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"I would have liked two or three points [of a lead]. We got the penalty, we had to go for it, we were with that storm. It's easy to say now 'tap it over'.
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"There were a lot of questions answered to everybody today. We have massive respect for Kilkenny. We know they're a great team, they showed it today but we're right there or thereabouts with them."
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Fitzgerald hailed the performances of forwards Shane O'Donnell (1-03 from play), and the irrepressible Tony Kelly, who scored nine points (two frees) before limping off in the final minutes.
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"Shane was causing them problems in both halves. His touch was magnificent. But that's Shane O'Donnell, that's the way he is," said Fitzgerald.
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"It's been tough since we won the All-Ireland, he's had a lot of attention but he's really shown [himself to be] the forward I know he is.
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"[Tony] will have to have a scan tomorrow. He was tearing them apart. I was watching at times and they had Cillian Buckley and the loose man was on him as well. They paid him a lot of attention."
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Fitzgerald suggested that the hunger shown by the Clare players was the perfect answer to recent rumblings of unrest in the camp.
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"We're going to have to improve for May but one thing I can take out of today is that fight, we need to get that fight always," he said.
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"I'm really proud of the way the team played for each other. They weren't fazed by Kilkenny.
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"We just want to keep working hard ourselves. People might have questioned the lads and questioned different things. I think you can see today how they played for each other.
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"Everybody out there was really working hard for each other and I think that's massive.
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"They are a phenomenal bunch. We as a management and a panel are very tight and I think you can see that.
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As for relegation to Division 1B, the Sixmilebridge man said that he was hopeful GAA authorities would consider a reform of the current two-tier six-team structure, but that Clare would play wherever they were told to.
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"We're not happy about it but Cork went down there, Limerick, Dublin.
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"I think the whole thing is up for review again, so hopefully there'll be a bit of sense seen on it. I don't think we're a Divison 1B team but if we have to play there we won't have a complaint.
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"But I'd like to see a bit of common sense thrown into this. I think Limerick have spent long enough in 1B and Wexford have, so it's maybe time for a change.
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"But if we have to go down, we'll do what we have to do."
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"It's all about from May onwards. That's when things start really heating up and we have work to do."
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