Darragh Fitzgibbon hopeful that his Croke Park luck will change

Cork All Star is confident he’ll be fit to join his club Charleville for All-Ireland clash

Cork All Star Darragh Fitzgibbon: hoping to recover from  injury in time to play for  Charleville against Galway champions Oranmore-Maree in the AIB All-Ireland intermediate club hurling final at Croke Park on February 10th. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Cork All Star Darragh Fitzgibbon: hoping to recover from injury in time to play for Charleville against Galway champions Oranmore-Maree in the AIB All-Ireland intermediate club hurling final at Croke Park on February 10th. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Darragh Fitzgibbon at Croke Park: by February 10th, he’s hopeful that he can recover from injury and help his club Charleville in the AIB All-Ireland intermediate club hurling final. Six months ago he nearly got Cork over the line in a magnificent All-Ireland semi-final against eventual champions Limerick.

On Thursday he attends the media event to publicise the finals in the same stadium he hopes to run out on in just 10 days against Galway champions Oranmore-Maree.

“I’ve been lucky enough with injuries so far,” says the 21-year-old UCC arts student. “I was a bit worried about it immediately after the game [the semi-final win over Kilkenny’s Graigue-Ballycallan], [but it] could have been worse, could have been a couple of months, so I was happy enough when I realised it’s only a couple of weeks.

“I’m coming along okay, I think. I tore my medial ligament. It was only a grade one so I have 10 days left to get ready, so I should be okay for the final.”

Charleville were in the stadium seven years ago when losing to another Kilkenny club, Ballyraggett, by just a point in the junior final, when Fitzgibbon was barely in his teens – a day out he remembers.

Experienced hands

The club, who haven’t been senior for 50 years, are in experienced hands with former Cork All-Ireland winning captain Ben O’Connor managing and hoping to emulate his own club career with Newtownshandrum, winners of the senior title 15 years ago.

“Growing up,” he says, “we would have watched Ben and Jerry playing. Cork were really successful at the time so they would have been heroes.”

His own time has arrived at that level and if there was severe disappointment at losing last year’s under-21 All-Ireland final against a Tipperary side they had easily beaten in Munster and the senior semi-final against Limerick, he had the personal satisfaction of ending 2018 as an All Star.

The Limerick match continues to haunt him and the county. The loss of a six-point lead in the final 10 minutes was almost personalised as it had been one of his turbo charges and a well-struck point, followed by a fist pump of victory that no one in the 71,073-crowd would have argued with, which had pushed Cork ahead 1-26 to 1-20, only to be hauled back and lose in extra time.

‘Huge disappointment’

“Yeah, yeah, just huge disappointment really. The dressing-room afterwards was terrible. Having such a lead and it looked like we might get over the line, but you have to look at the whole championship – there’s nothing between any team really.

For a club like Charleville that hasn’t had much success, you never really think that you’re going to play an All-Ireland here at Croke Park

“Limerick’s panel is incredible and you have to give credit to them. When the championship is so competitive and you have to play everyone, you’re going to earn your All-Ireland win and you’re really going to be the best team in the country.”

His own chance, though, is coming up in a few days.

“For a club like Charleville that hasn’t had much success, you never really think that you’re going to play an All-Ireland here at Croke Park. It’s only an intermediate, I suppose, but it’s a great opportunity for us.”

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