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Fitzgerald proud of boys who 'gave their heart' in thriller

By Declan Bogue

Comebacks don't come much more lion-hearted and brave than the one that Clare created for themselves in Croke Park yesterday.

Throughout the game they hurled with more aggression, pace and skill, but Cork somehow managed to find a hitherto untapped source of goals and rocked them back on their heels with stiff jabs, getting three goals in the second half.

By the time Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald came out for interview, he and his team were the men in the arena, who gave of their all and now live to tell the tale.

Little wonder his small frame was busting with pride.

"Listen," he said. "It just showed what character, it showed what steel is about and I am so proud of my guys.

"Whether they win, lose or draw the next day, I don't give a damn. And that's being honest.

"Anyone watching outside saw an example of boys giving their heart.

"There was a lot of tough things going against them. I won't say unfair. I could, but a lot of tough things went against them and they still came back for more."

Privately, Fitzgerald will be fuming about some of the decisions arrived at by referee Brian Gavin and when asked if all the supposed bad luck for Clare would have been balanced out by the additional 30 seconds for them to manufacture an equaliser at the end he said: "No. No. The only answer to that question is no and leave it at that."

On further pressing he added: "Ah no, I'm not going into that. It was a good hurling game. Anyone with a pair of eyes out there would know what the story is.

"I'm not going into it. Listen, Cork are a good team, fair play to them, they are a good hurling team, they went down four or five points.

"They kept coming back. Fair play to them. My hat is off to them, the way they hurled out there. The two teams gave everything they had. I'm not going to say one bad word about Cork. Not a hope."

On the rescue act by O'Donovan, he shook his head in wonderment and then added: "Nine times out of 10 in training it goes wide, but you know what... wasn't it some thinking by our goalie straight away after the point to put it down that side. Like... everything we had worked for – our dreams – were on the line."

He added: "The only time we were behind in the whole game.

"I mean, I could not believe it, that we were behind. Because I didn't think we deserved to be. And when he got it, hats off to him.

"Donny has got a bit of stick over the year and fair play to him. He came up trumps."

Jimmy Barry-Murphy was less raw and emotional about things, but then again, few are as open as Fitzgerald.

On Cork rediscovering a knack for goals, he said: "I have said this before, I never worry when I hear this talk of us not getting goals.

"We have got to an All-Ireland final we mustn't be doing too much wrong.

"Goals tend to come at times when you need them.

"Lucky for us, they came when we badly needed them ... "

No whinging either, on the subject of the time added on, although he was screaming for the whistle to be blown by the side of the field.

"Look, it's the referee's call. There were a couple of decisions that might have gone our way. I have no criticism, thought the referee was excellent on the day," he said.

"I'd have to be honest and say it's a fair result.

"It's a fair result from our point of view because they might have edged it probably, but our lads showed great character when they looked to be struggling in a lot of places, the commitment they showed and the spirit they showed, I am very proud of that."

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Waterford took a deserved All-Ireland minor hurling title yesterday when they defeated Galway 1-21 to 0-16.

It was the Deise's first triumph at this level since 1948 and their victory was sealed with a late goal from full-forward Patrick Curran, who intercepted a short puckout from Galway goalkeeper Cathal Tuohy.

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