Cha 'drawing line in the sand'
KILKENNY's James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick has decided to retire from the inter-county game at the age of 26 and last night he acknowledged that -- in an era of more powerful hurling -- he struggled to keep up with his rivals.
"One of the things against me was the lack of speed. I remember during the year, doing drills against Michael Fennelly and Michael Rice and they're power houses," he said on RTE radio last night.
"For every step they took I'd take three, I'd find it hard to keep up with them. They'd run up and down the field from 21-yard line to 21-yard line effortlessly.
"I have great hurling, great vision but the way the game has gone, there are just huge fitness levels and speed and everything, and I suppose that is one area that has gone against me."
A teacher in west Dublin, the strain of travelling up and down to Kilkenny for training got too much for Fitzpatrick as he couldn't see any way of forcing his way into manager Brian Cody's plans.
"I'm teaching in Dublin and it's a huge level of commitment travelling up and down," he said.
"At the end of it all you'd like to be rewarded for your efforts. The only way you could be rewarded would be by playing and it's so competitive that it shows strength in the squad.
"As a young player coming in at 19, 20 or 21, I had no problem serving time on the bench with all the older lads there, but I've been on both sides of fence and there's only one side to be on.
"I came into last season saying it was make or break. I had better nail down a place or move on and unfortunately it didn't work out for me.
"It was great year for Kilkenny but a lot goes into inter-county hurling and to make it worthwhile you'd want to be playing so I'm taking the decision that I'm moving on"
When asked if he would consider a future comeback, Fitzpatrick said: "I'm going to draw a line in the sand."