Fionn Fitzgerald the latest heir to Kerry’s eternal tradition
Kingdom’s young team have full faith in their own ability
Fionn Fitzgerald and Kieran O’Leary lift the cup following Kerry’s win over Cork in the Munster SFC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
If the sight of Kerry gliding home from Cork with the county’s 76th Munster title was the latest emphasis of how eternal the old order can be other aspects of the success weren’t as established.
The record defeat of Cork in the last big football engagement for the county at the venue was one departure and the presence of a new captain to raise the trophy was another.
Fionn Fitzgerald from Dr Croke’s in Killarney is heir to a tradition going back to his namesake, Dick who 100 years ago wrote the GAA’s first football training manual. More contemporarily he’s a club-mate of Colm Cooper whose season-ending injury placed extra pressure on Kerry this year.
RetirementWhen taken with the retirement of other great warriors, the young team had reason to be apprehensive even fearful?
“I wouldn’t think fear is the right word, to be honest,” according to Fitzgerald. “I think we’re all comfortable in our skin and our own game. It was just a matter of performing.
“The league has been a bit topsy-turvy, there’s no doubt about that, we’re still finding ourselves, we’re a young team but I don’t think we doubt ourselves. We enjoy the big games.
“You want to test yourself down in Páírc Uí Chaoimh, backs to the wall. Maybe a lot of people didn’t give us a chance but I think a lot of our fellas enjoy that. There’s fierce competition. I mean, people have spoken about our substitutes’ bench – I think it should be emphatically pointed out how strong our bench is.
Ability“We have a very strong team but the fellas had the ability to come on. I think it’s something probably overlooked by a lot of people, but we’re happy with where we’re at and we’re working as a team and as a panel so that’s it from our point of view.”
For Fitzgerald and half a dozen of his team-mates the last Munster senior football final in the venue was also their first.
“For some of us it is our first time playing down here as a Kerry senior at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. I obviously played underage and stuff. It’s a gorgeous pitch regardless of what’s spoken about it as a setting. I actually think it’s a bit of a cauldron.
“We wanted to see how we’d respond in a cauldron like that and I think we responded well so it was a good test for us.”