Fitzpatrick sees 'no problem' in dual TD and boss role
Louth manager Peter Fitzpatrick only found out he had been elected a Fine Gael TD in the constituency while he prepared to give his final talk to his Division 3 table-toppers before they played Wexford on Sunday.
Fitzpatrick was only elected on the 12th count after securing enough transfers from Labour candidate Jed Nash, who had been elected in the previous count, to see off Fianna Fail's James Carroll.
He had stayed in touch with the count centre in Dundalk IT for most of the morning, aware that his election was very much in the balance.
He had been inundated with so many calls and texts in Wexford that he decided to narrow his contact down to just one particular individual to deliver the news.
"I was 3,200 votes ahead when I left Dundalk but I knew that the Fianna Fail candidate would catch up because of the elimination of his running mate. It was very tight. I really had no idea if I would get enough transfers from Labour in the end," he said.
Fitzpatrick did not break the news to his team until after the victory in Wexford Park had been secured.
"I took the call from a particular individual I had an agreement with and then I got back to the business of winning the football match," said Fitzpatrick.
"I left it at that and I put it out of my mind as much as I could."
Fitzpatrick had left Dundalk that morning at 7.0 to link up with the team, who had gone down to Wexford the day before.
"It's important for Louth to get back into Division 2 and so far we have made the perfect start," he said.
"To do that without the three players we have lost to emigration from last year's championship team (Mick Fanning, John O'Brien and Brian White) is a credit to our players."
Fitzpatrick informed the dressing-room of his election afterwards and spirits were high as they headed back up along the east coast.
"I was back in Monasterboice to meet up with the rest of the Fine Gael team at around 7.0 and we went on to Dunleer, Ardee and eventually Dundalk.
"There was great celebration and I'm honoured to be representing the people of Louth."
Fitzpatrick feels he will have no problem fulfilling both roles, a situation his Fine Gael colleague John O'Mahony found himself in with Mayo for four championship campaigns.
Fitzpatrick's advantage is his proximity to Dublin from his Dundalk base and to Darver, where Louth GAA has training facilities.
He will welcome advice from O'Mahony but believes Louth GAA is sufficiently well organised to cope.
"We have a great team assembled and I don't see a problem. If I did I wouldn't have taken on an election," he said.