Fitzsimons still defying the myths of the modern Dublin footballer

Cuala stalwart had far from a gilded football background and underage career

 

 There is a series of myths and popular misconceptions about the rise of this Dublin football team which Michael Fitzsimons can defy at every turn. 

These Dublin players were born winners?

Fitzsimons actually won nothing at minor or under-21 level and never dreamed big beyond the All-Ireland junior football title he won with Dublin in 2008. There were no lavish development squads and his southside club Cuala were still intermediate. 

They were richly bred winners?

Fitzsimons actually grew up in Kildare while he father worked with the Defence Forces and soccer was his first love. When he first played senior with Dublin in 2010 they were fairly hammered by Meath in the Leinster semi-final, 5-9 to 0-13, and the only guarantee after that was nothing would be won easy

When he started 2011 final win over Kerry he became the first Cuala player to start an All-Ireland for Dublin since the late Mick Holden in 1983. 

They keep reproducing winners?

Fitzgerald lost his place in 2012, initially through injury, and when Jim Gavin took over from Pat Gilroy he needed to earn it all over again, and didn’t feature at all in the 2013 All-Ireland win. The only game Fitzsimons started for Dublin in 2016 was the replayed All-Ireland final win over Mayo, where he seized the day with such ferocious enthusiasm he ended up man of the match. 

Dublin footballers have it handy?

Fitzsimons started out in physiotherapy and then switched to medicine, graduating from UCD this month, a year after fellow Dublin defender Jack McCaffrey. 

They’re all ferocious attackers and can score at will?

Fitzsimons made his 100th appearance for Dublin in Sunday’s Leinster quarter-final win over Louth, and scored his first ever point. 

Mick Fitzsimons in action against Mayo’s Andy Moran. “I ended up in the full back line and found a niche, enjoyed it, enjoyed the analytical and technical aspects of trying to keep someone else quiet.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Mick Fitzsimons in action against Mayo’s Andy Moran. “I ended up in the full back line and found a niche, enjoyed it, enjoyed the analytical and technical aspects of trying to keep someone else quiet.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

“Yeah first shot and first point,” he says. “One hundred per cent record!” he quipped.”  

Old mentors

Speaking in Croke Park at the announcement of a sponsorship between Cuala and biopharmaceutical company Amgen, Fitzsimons makes it clear that even now, six All-Ireland wins later, on the cusp of a record five-in-a-row, he sometimes has to pinch himself. 

“Yeah, especially when you meet some of your old mentors, you think back how they helped you along the way. A lot of it obviously is the hard work of others that contributed to it, your parents bringing you down.

“I started in Confey, in Kildare, and then when we got up to Dublin, bringing me to Cuala and even the school that I was in, with Damien Byrne, much heralded in Cuala as starting the nursery and the academy and really setting the ball rolling for hurling and football in the club again. Because it had a lull after the wins in the 80s and 90s. 

“But yeah, I wasn’t on any underage squads or anything like that. I played soccer but went back to the GAA, even one of the fathers there would have managed my teams there and it was just so much more of a community that you end up being friends with them, hanging around with them and it nearly became an image – you’re walking around with your hurls around estates and all that. 

“I just stuck with it, then I went through periods, I was on the minor Bs and stuff like that. I was playing half back and I wasn’t a great half back and then someone put me in the full back line, which I hadn’t played, at the age of probably 18.

“I ended up in the full back line and found a niche, enjoyed it, enjoyed the analytical and the technical aspects of trying to keep someone else quiet.” 

Nothing mythical about that.

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