FG hoping to score seat with football manager Fitzpatrick
FINE Gael is trying to get Louth gaelic football manager Peter Fitzpatrick to run in the 2011 General Election.
Mr Fitzpatrick guided the county to the Leinster football final last year, where the Wee County lost out after an immensely controversial last- minute goal by Meath.
Following Justice Minister Dermot Ahern's announcement of his retirement, all parties see a massive gap at the northern end of the county in Dundalk.
'Dragons' Den' TV star and businessman Sean Gallagher turned down Fianna Fail's approaches to be Mr Ahern's replacement in recent years.
Sensing a chance to take a second seat in Louth following Mr Ahern's retirement, Fine Gael went hunting for a celebrity candidate as Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness will not be coming back from Europe.
Mr Fitzpatrick was approached by senior Fine Gael figures last week about running for the party and joining education spokesman Fergus O'Dowd on the ticket.
The 48-year-old businessman is based in Dundalk and runs a number of electrical shops.
The party is expecting to get a response from Mr Fitzpatrick early in the New Year.
"He was approached over the last few days. He'd be a Fine Gael supporter," a senior source said.
Mr Fitzpatrick is a friend of Fine Gael councillor Jim D'Arcy and would have attended party functions in the past. Mr D'Arcy and fellow councillor Colm Markey are also on the party's shortlist of candidates -- if it fails to attract a high-profile name.
Mr Fitzpatrick wouldn't necessarily have to give up his job as Louth county manager if he was elected as a TD.
At the last general election, then Mayo football manager, John O'Mahony, was elected as a TD for the party and continued as manager for the following three seasons.
In his first season in charge of Louth, Mr Fitzpatrick guided the county to three finals -- the O'Byrne Cup, the Leinster Senior and the Leinster Junior, winning the latter.
Louth were just seconds away from their first Leinster senior football title since 1957 in Croke Park back in July, when Meath scrambled home a contentious winning goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time to beat their local rivals by 1-12 to 1-10.
The infamous goal was one of the main talking points of the GAA season. Mr Fitzpatrick had to attempt to protect the referee from assaults from irate Louth fans who invaded the pitch after the game.
He is seeking to strengthen his squad for next year and has targeted promotion to Division Two, saying anything less will be a failure.