Thursday 18 July 2019

Darragh's respect for McInerney

Darragh Fitzgibbon of Charleville. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Darragh Fitzgibbon of Charleville. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Charleville star Darragh Fitzgibbon has spoken of his respect for a man who's likely to be amongst his direct opponents in Sunday's All Ireland Intermediate Club Hurling Final against Oranmore-Maree in Croke Park - Gearóid McInerney.

"Sure he's a fantastic player I suppose," Fitzbiggon said this week.

"Hurling centre-back for Galway and winning an All-Ireland, he probably could have been player of the year in 2017, we know how good he is, but we have to concentrate on all 15 players and as I said, it's gonna be tough. An All-Ireland final against any Galway team is going to be tough."

The challenge Oranmore-Maree pose to his side's ambitions are plain to see and that's something both Fitzgibbon and his colleagues are well aware of.

"Yeah, we've seen a few video clips," Fitzgibbon continued.

"But I suppose you don't really know much about teams or counties outside of Cork, but we've a few weeks to prepare for them. Look, they have Geroid McInerney and Niall Burke, two huge players who've won (All-Irelands) and played at the top-level. We're under no illusions, it's an All-Ireland final, it's gonna be tough, but we are just looking forward to it."

Fitzgibbon, of course, is at the vanguard of a new and emerging Charleville side.

"I think we have eight Under 21s starting," he explains.

"But we are under no illusions that senior hurling is going to be a different level again and I suppose it'll take us time to adjust to that as well, but it's a bright future, it's the highest level we've been playing at for 50 years, it's all looking good.

"Growing up we were only playing at junior level and I suppose we were looking at local clubs playing senior and they were having unbelievable success.

"It's the players that are getting the credit, but the structures were put in place for us growing up, we were hurling at the top-level from underage the whole way up and that was because of the work being going on in the background. To get to where we are is all down to the structures that were put in place for us.

"It's a town, I suppose we haven't had much success in hurling. This is the highest level we're gonna be playing at this season for 50 years. We are on a high really, but you have to look at the structures people put in to get us to where we are today."

An outside force has, however, been a very important factor in Charleville's rise to an All Ireland club final - Ben O'Connor who came on board last year as coach.

"Yeah, Newtownshandrum are a local club to us, but I suppose when we were growing up Ben and Jerry were winning All-Irelands with Cork and Newtownshandrum, they were idols to us with all the success they had and for him to come out and train us, it's kind of an honour to play for him," Fitzgibbon admitted.

"They really are at the top-level I think Ben and Jerry won every award you can win in hurling. The success we've had is a testament to the work put in by management and the players themselves because it was a disappointing season."