Saturday 24 March 2018

Fitzsimons warns: 'Dubs will not be resting on their laurels'

Micheal Fitzsimons. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Micheal Fitzsimons. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

The All-Ireland SFC final replay between Dublin and Mayo was being aired on TG4 in his parents' house when Mick Fitzsimons paid a visit over Christmas, but much like during the game itself he has little recollection of anything that happened during it.

In a dog-eat-dog position like corner-back that's a good sign. Sportspeople often talk about being 'in the zone' during their finest hour and Fitzsimons' only two memories of his man-of-the-match display for the Dubs were mistakes.

"When you're playing well, it just goes past you, it goes very quickly. You don't overthink it. Whereas when you're playing poorly, you're thinking every single move and you're really aware of the consequences of your actions," Fitzsimons said.

"The only two stages where things slowed down were when I could have taken my point at the end and also, when I turned my back on a kick-out.

"It could easily have gotten kicked to my back and Stephen (Cluxton) let me know all about it. To have only two moments when you're a bit self-conscious about yourself is pretty good."

Having played very little in 2016, the Cuala defender came in from the cold to play a starring role for the Dubs - who field an understrength team in the O'Byrne Cup against Kildare tomorrow. Previously a lack of game-time would have led to self-doubt but the 27-year-old showed great maturity during tough times.

"You go through a range of emotions; frustration, anger but when you face reality and what it is, you have to face it. If I was a bit blind to that I'd get more frustrated and sometimes that hasn't helped with my performance.

"There's been ups and downs since 2012/2013 in my season so I've learned a lot.

"Previously if I wasn't playing come the quarter-final, I'd start trying to make these drastic changes in my game during the summer to try and do something, and I'd start making mistakes because I wasn't doing this stuff week in, week out.

"But now I trust my own ability, trust the way I play and have a bit more patience. I understand that there's huge competition and I'd back myself a bit more then. Fortunately enough, things fell my way."

Despite his stellar display, Fitzsimons is "under no illusions" that he has to prove himself to Jim Gavin this season and after returning to training on Monday night he feels his treble-seeking team-mates are thinking likewise.

With big names like Bernard Brogan and Michael Darragh Macauley replaced for the replay, the tigerish corner-back believes they'll be kept on their toes and avoid any "bad habits".

"The nature of the group is no-one is going to rest on their laurels. There's huge competition, people are looking over their shoulder knowing they have to work hard," the medical student said.

"Lads will be pushing hard for the league. I know myself from experience if you're starting in the league, you're starting in the championship. And if you're not, it's a little bit of a disadvantage. So everyone is pushing for a spot and that drives up standards."

Irish Independent

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