Darragh Fitzgibbon eager to seize opportunity
By Michael Devlin
A provincial Under 21 title is up for grabs for Darragh Fitzgibbon and his Cork teammates next Wednesday when they take on Tipperary in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
First, though, there’s the little issue of the Munster senior decider against Clare in Semple Stadium on Sunday. Two finals in four days, it’s a tough schedule, but the Charleville midfielder wouldn’t have it any other way.
“On Wednesday I've a Munster final, but you can't really think about it because we've another one on Sunday, so it is difficult but it's a good complaint as well.
“We just love playing matches and the performance has been enjoyable and the more matches the better.
“It is tough, but it's hugely enjoyable. As a player you want to be playing in as many matches as you can. It's a new format, less training, more matches so I'm really enjoying it so far.
“I suppose it's not too bad. At the start of the year if you told any of us that, we'd be thrilled with it. So looking forward to the week ahead.”
Fitzgibbon made his senior bow for Cork last year under Kieran Kingston and had a stellar rookie season, winning a Munster title before losing out to Waterford in an All-Ireland semi-final.
This season, with John Meyler at the helm, he has continued that promising trajectory, playing a key role at centrefield as Cork finished top of the round-robin stage without a defeat.
Three points against Clare, four against Limerick and a point against Waterford last day out, the energetic Fitzgibbon has a knack of popping up and getting on the scoreboard, and he is hoping the fine start to the year continues.
“It's been a great start I suppose," Fitzgibbon admits. "Last year it all just went so fast. Being the first year you're a bit nervous and you just want to go out and just get on the ball and not make a mistake really.
“So I suppose this year I'm just enjoying it a bit more, there's a bit more freedom. That just comes from yourself really. I'm just taking it a bit more and enjoying it a bit more this year.
And while Fitzgibbon appears to be taking it his early accomplishments all in his stride at senior level, he has unfinished business to attend to next Wednesday in the Under 21 decider in front of a home crowd.
A red card received in injury time in last July’s semi-final against Waterford ruled him out of the final against Limerick, and the Treatymen went on to win the trophy in a tense 0-16 to 1-11 finish at the Gaelic Grounds. Wednesday night is a chance for Fitzgibbon to put things right.
“I suppose I felt disappointed in last year, felt I maybe let the lads down, stupid to get sent-off and miss a Munster final. So to have another opportunity again this year and just delighted to be able to play again.”