Fitzpatrick steps down as Louth manager

He watched his club Clan Na Gael play on Sunday evening against Geraldines in Dowdallshill. Just hours previously Peter Fitzpatrick had issued a statement to the County Board and the local media stating that he was calling time on his three year tenure as Louth manager.

He watched his club Clan Na Gael play on Sunday evening against Geraldines in Dowdallshill. Just hours previously Peter Fitzpatrick had issued a statement to the County Board and the local media stating that he was calling time on his three year tenure as Louth manager.

In those three years Louth had reached a Leinster final for the first time in fifty years, they also won Division Three of the national league and reached two O’Byrne finals.

However Fitzer’s association with County football in Louth stretches back over thirty years, as both player and manager.

His first match as manager was in the O’Byrne Cup in january 2010 against Meath and it is the game this season against the Royals in Division two which Fitzer remembers with most fondness.

“That game will always stay with me, we stayed up by beating Meath.”

In his resignation statement he alluded to his playing days with the Wee County.

“Since I first put on the senior red jersey in October 1980 against Clare in Ennis, I have had some of the greatest and proudest moments of my life with Louth.

“My senior debut preceded winning the Leinster U21 Championship in 1981. Winning this Leinster title for Louth gave me immense pride. I can honestly say I loved every minute of my playing career and wore the red jersey for the last time against Dublin (who were to go on and win the All Ireland) in Navan in 1995.”

He also reflected on his record as County manager with pride.

“Our record on the field included getting to two O’Byrne Cup finals, (beaten by a point in both!), winning a Leinster Final (but not getting the medals!), winning Division 3, and probably the most satisfying of all, retaining our rightful status in Division 2 football this year, despite all the critics forecasting our downfall.”

Yet the local TD has had his critics throughout his three years in charge and indeed there was talk of him stepping down last year after Louth’s poor run in that year’s Leinster and All Ireland championships.

On Sunday in Dowdallshill, many well wishers came up to Fitzer, clapped him on the back and wished him well for the future.

Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat yesterday, Fitzpatrick spoke of how he came to make the decision to step down from the Louth hot seat.

“I had a meeting with Brian McEniff and the other selectors last week and we discussed the situation.

“It wasn’t an easy one to make. I sat down with my wife Anne and she asked me if it was the right decision.

“But I feel it was time to move on and let someone else in with fresh ideas.

“It’s been tough going up and down to Dublin,” added the former County manager.

As for the next person to take over, Fitzer has nothing but best wishes.

“Best of luck to the next person. I’ll be available to help them with anything they need.

“I have a large dossier on most players in Louth.”

During his time in charge Fitzpatrick held what he refers to as an ‘open house policy’ regarding the media and supporters.

It is something which he believes is vital to the growth of football in the County.

“We allowed the supporters to mingle with the players and the access to the team was unreal.”

“There were times when the team under performed, like the game against Cavan two years ago, but you’ve got to take that on the chin and get on with it.”

With GAA in his blood, the Clans man will return to management at some stage in the future.

And he took particular pleasure from taking two training sessions with Annaghminnon Rovers in recent weeks.

“I got a call to see if i would speak to the lads at Annaghminnon. They were struggling to get lads to training and had considered pulling out of the Junior Championship altogther.

“But over the two weeks the numbers did increase and it was rewarding,” he explained.