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CLARE FANS MUST BE PATIENT; GOALKEEPING LEGEND LOOKS AHEAD Fitzgerald: Rebuilding is in place to make the Banner a force again.

Byline: BY PAT NOLAN

DAVY Fitzgerald has warned Clare supporters that it may be a number of years before they compete at the business end of the Championship again.

Former Banner 'keeper Fitzgerald, who recently announced his retirement from inter-county hurling, has been snapped up for a punditry role on the Sunday Game on RTE this summer.

He said: "I think Mike (McNamara, manager) has a lot of work to do. I think there's a lot of rebuilding to do.

"Last year wasn't a good year, not alone for the controversy, but the team didn't perform well last year.

"We be at Limerick comprehensively two years ago, last year they beat us well enough by seven points and were comfortable enough.

"We seem to have gone back a bit so I think he has a good bit of rebuilding to do, even team spirit and that.

"I was in there for the few months and he was working hard at it and I think he's going in the right direction but make no mistake about it, I think Clare are in a rebuilding process, that they're going to have to start again with a new team and come.

Clare play Waterford on June 1 in the Munster Championship but Fitzgerald reckons the talk of disquiet in the Deise camp will have abated by then.

He added: "You can be sure Waterford will come out there battling big time. Justin McCarthy has never won an All-Ireland with this team and probably gets a bit of stick for it. He'll want to win one.

"I'm fairly certain that'll tighten up come June 1 and they'll run out all guns blazing.

Kilkenny are the almost unbackable favourites once again, according to Fitzgerald.

"Kilkenny are odds-on favourites, that's it. That's the bottom line.

"Tipp look good, but you just wonder, they've gone flat out very early, can they sustain this till the end of the Championship?

""I don't think they'll do it but I think they'll be there or thereabouts. Certainly they're a joy to watch and they're being handled very professionally.

"They have one massive game down in Cork. That is one that I would call 50-50 for definite."

Fitzgerald also gives Galway a chance under his former boss Ger Loughnane.

Fitzgerald added: "Ger has said himself, he would deem himself a failure unless he wins. He knows the talent is there and if there's anybody that can get it out of them, Ger can. Ger is good at what he does.

"I like his attitude this year. He's backing his team up which is important. He's not having any rows with any opposition."

CAPTION(S):

THE RIGHT DIRECTION: Davy Fitzgerald believes Clare are going in the right direction; ON THE BOX WITH THE SUNDAY GAME'S NEW HURLING TEAM HURLING TEAM: The Sunday Game, RTE (Back Row l-r) of Pete Finnerty, Davy Fitzgerald, Thomas Mulcahy, Anthony Daly, (Front) Clare MacNamara, Michael Lyster and Evanne Ni Chuilinn
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 2, 2008
Words:493
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