Enda Fitzpatrick is a once in a generation coach, says Niall Moyna

Conor Breslin

Former DCU Football Manager Niall Moyna, has expressed his concern over the decision not to pursue an extension to Enda Fitzpatrick’s position as the university’s Athletics Academy Director.

Fitzpatrick, who was not given an extension to his position back in May reapplied for the role but did not pursue it.

Moyna also suggested that the departure of Fitzpatrick “would reflect poorly on this university”, and described Fitzpatrick as “the most successful coach in the history of Irish third level sport”.

DCU athletics club gathered over 2,300 signatures on the petition to retain Fitzpatrick last May.

Fitzpatrick, a former international 1,500m runner and sub-four-minute miler, has held the position since 2003, on a secondment basis, having previously worked as a teacher in Holy Faith secondary school in Clontarf. DCU maintain the position was only agreed on a temporary secondment, and following a recent directive from the Department of Education, no extensions were being considered.

“I am extremely disappointed with that decision,” Moyna said. “Enda Fitzpatrick is a coach that comes along once in a generation. He’s a unique individual, was an elite athlete himself, and is also the most student-centred individual.”

“You can’t put a price on that, and it would reflect very poorly on DCU if he was let go. I just cannot comprehend it. They had nine years to regularize this position, why are they doing it now? If he was in America, he would be a superstar, or as I said to someone else, we’re getting rid of an academic Nobel laureate.

“It’s so, so difficult to get really good people in sport, and it’s not just what he’s done in athletics, that stands on his own two feet. It’s how he interacts with the students. Why would you want to get rid of someone like that? I just can’t understand it, and my worry is that it is doing reputational damage to this wonderful institution.”

Mickey Whealan has also recently stood down as President of Athletics in DCU citing differences in management between himself and the running of sport in DCU. Whealan has cited his support for Fitzpatrick and said that “Enda is one of the best coaches I have ever met.”

In an email to Brian MacCraith, DCU president, Moyna also outlined his belief “there are a number of compelling reasons” to extend Fitzpatrick’s tenure: “Prior to 2004, DUC never placed in the top-5 of an athletics championship; since then, 190 team titles have been won, along with hundreds of individual titles, and in those few short years have surpassed the outstanding record of UCD, achieved over 110 years.

“I have no hesitation in stating that this record ranks Enda as the most successful coach in the history of Irish third level sport. Enda is a popular, successful, well-respected, much-admired, and much-loved coach, who has played a major role in developing sport in DCU. He would be viewed as a superstar coach if he was working in an American university.

“I believe that allowing Enda to leave DCU under the present circumstances would reflect poorly on this university. You simply cannot put a price on Enda’s role over the last number of years where he has played such a part in transforming the lives of so many young men and women.”

Moyna, whose interest in sport is spread between Gaelic football and athletics, set up the DCU Athletics Academy with Fitzpatrick in 2003; in recent years he has managed the DCU senior football team to four Sigerson Cups. He was also selector on the St Vincents team that won the All-Ireland club football championship in 2008, and part of the Dublin senior football backroom team that has won the All-Ireland senior football title in 2011.

Fitzpatrick has stated his hurt at the way things were conducted but is trying now to put it behind him. With the recent resignation of Mickey Whealan, Fitzpatrick has stated, “DCU need to be careful or they will be soon back to the situation they were in before 2003, competing for the sack of it and winning nothing.”

After the signing of the petition in May, Fitzpatrick reapplied for the role. “I was left on a waiting list for the entire Summer. I found this extremely disappointing considering I worked for the college for almost 15 years. They finally got back to me in late August saying I was on a short list but by then my mind was made up. I wasn’t going to go back,” said Fitzpatrick.

Conor Breslin

Image Credit: Sports File