Michael Fitzsimons relishing Dublin adventure
By Cian O'Connell
During the past few years Dublin have quietly integrated players into the senior set-up and Michael Fitzsimons smiles when asked about the emergence of a few more classy footballers from the 2017 All Ireland Under 21 winning team.
Colm Basquel and the gifted Con O’Callaghan have already produced at the highest level for Dublin, but they were joined this spring in the Allianz League by Eoin Murchan and Brian Howard, who both contributed handsomely in the decider against Galway.
Fitzsimons acknowledges the significance of bringing through talent to ensure Dublin remain relevant. “It is great, it is important,” Fitzsimons says.
“Like, the freshness, it is great to have new characters coming in with different interests, different thoughts on life, different thoughts on playing football - how it should be played. It is great to get that, it keeps it fresh and keeps the dressing room interesting.”
That some of the current Dublin panel trained these players a number of years ago merely adds to the sense of satisfaction according to Fitzsimons.
“It is great to see these young lads because we would have helped coaching these lads,” Fitzsimons adds. “Stephen O'Shaughnessy used to run these camps during the summer so the lads used to do four weeks with Dublin Development squads. It is great to see them coming through.
“David Henry could see Eoin Murchan's potential back in the day, we all thought this lad is going to be good. We admired him and he has come through.
“The same with Colm Basquel, Con O'Callaghan, Brian Howard - we would have seen loads of lads come through them camps.
“It has another aspect in that you'd have a rapport through knowing them. They know and have met lads before so there is a welcome for them. There would always be a good welcome, but there is familiarity. There has been great work done at underage and, in fairness, that helps us keep fresh.”
That is something Dublin have managed to do impressively throughout much of the past decade. “I think that is important that you get a good break and it isn't one year rolling into the next,” Fitzsimons remarks.
“When the 2016 All Ireland went to a replay we finished up later so they put us coming back a bit later to keep us fresh. It was the same again. That is the main thing because the lads have trained long enough so there is a relatively good training base of fitness, mentally it is good.”
Fitzsimons enjoyed a couple of victories with Cuala in the Club Championship and when the players return to prepare with Dublin a good ‘buzz’ exists.
“You haven't seen lads for about a month, maybe you've been playing against them,” Fitzsimons remarks. “You'd see them the odd time around the place. As a group you haven't been together in a month so it is good to keep it fresh.
“We've done that more or less for the past five or six years. Under Pat Gilroy we did it, we had Club Championship games, it clears the head and creates a buzz when you get back in. You are refreshed and there is no cabin fever.”
Fitzsimons won a Dublin Under 21 Hurling Championship with a star studded Cuala, who have enjoyed stunning success on the All Ireland stage in 2017 and 2018.
“They are a fantastic team. From that 21s team you'd have Paul Schutte, Simon Timlin, John Sheanon, Oisin Gough, Colm Sheanon, Mark Schutte, David Treacy.
“You always thought that they would compete in Dublin at some stage, but you didn't really think it. Dublin teams hadn't won a Leinster for so long, so you didn't really think it.
“Not that they couldn't, but it didn't jump into your head about an All Ireland. I hadn't imagined it, but I suppose when they won in Dublin they probably had great ambitions about winning an All Ireland.
“Hopefully it is contagious. It is great around Dalkey with all the flags and loads of local businesses supporting the club. To get them two games was unbelievable.”
Silverware is still being collected by an accomplished group of Dublin footballers and Fitzsimons is relishing these glorious times. “It has been fantastic, a really enjoyable journey.” The adventure continues.