The only thing more curious than Davy Fitzgerald’s antics yesterday on the sideline at Nowlan Park was the lack of criticism he got off the RTÉ panel.
Two players, who were tough men on the field, but typically knew where the line was, refused to get worked up about the incredible images of the Wexford manager walking onto the pitch, squaring up with a opposistion player.
Why on earth did Ken McGrath and Jackie Tyrell refuse to criticise the Clareman’s antics? The pair came to the consensus that Davy regretted what happened – despite the Wexford manager saying otherwise in his post-match interview on TG4. I find it impossible to believe that RTÉ didn’t ask him about the incident after the match, yet they didn’t play his answer on the highlights show.
Time and time again Davy acts in ways that would get other people in huge trouble, but he gets away with it, because of his passion. Or something.
Make no mistake about it, the likes of John Kiely, Micheal Donoghue or Michael Ryan are no less passionate than Davy Fitz.
Yet, none of those three managers acted in any way like that today. If they did, they would get heavy suspensions – or at least be ordered off the sideline, a punishment that Fitzgerald somehow avoided also.
Davy was upset at Kirwan’s call not to give a free out in the run-up to Tipp’s second goal, and it is fair that questions be asked of the decision. But Davy’s antics were far worse than anything Kirwan did. Ironically, Wexford got away with a lot of physicality themselves over the 70 minutes so in a game where the official let a lot go, it wasn’t a surprise that this was waved away.
In a further twist of irony, it was the same official who awarded Wexford a very dubious penalty against Limerick in the opening round. Had John Kiely acted the way his Wexford counter-part did it is hard to imagine McGrath and Tyrell being so lenient.
Perhaps the pundits should have been pressed harder on why they were so slow to criticise Davy’s actions. With the panel describing Davy as “passionate” why not ask them is Davy the only passionate manager they played under, as this is carry on done by nobody else.
To say Michael Ryan wouldn’t have gotten away with that on the Tipp line is an unfair hypothetical – never in a million years would Ryan or any other inter-county boss act this way.
The GAA have to act to cut this out of the game. Davy acts the way he does not because he is passionate – but because he gets away with it.
Otherwise, they can ditch the “Give Respect, Get Respect” campaign with the referees.