Kieran Fitzgerald, one of the totems of Corofin’s historic three-in-a-row All-Ireland club success, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 39.
After a career that spanned four decades and saw him help his beloved club to an historic third national title on the bounce in Croke Park back in January, Fitzgerald has opted to call time on a career that yielded four club titles as well as a Sam Maguire success back in 2001.
And although Fitzgerald made a flying start to his career, winning an All-Ireland under John O’Mahony when the Tribesmen dismissed Meath, the towering defender wouldn’t win at Croke Park for another 14 years in the All-Ireland club final of 2015, when he was 34.
However, he quickly made up for lost time and finished a brilliant career with an incredible haul of a record 14 Galway senior titles, seven Connacht crowns, as well as four All-Ireland titles as Corofin brought the club game to new heights.
Before he finished up with Galway in 2011, Fitzgerald won one All-Ireland, three Connacht titles as well as an All Star award in 2001.
“It’s hard to put into words the enjoyment and satisfaction I have experienced while playing the sport I love for over 30 years,” Fitzgerald said in a statement to the Tuam Herald.
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“It was an absolute honour to play for Corofin GAA Club and for Galway. Although we had ups and downs, I loved it and if I could do it all again - I would!
“I am continually overwhelmed and humbled by the support and goodwill I have received down through the years from all corners of the GAA community both in good times and bad.
“I want to thank all the great coaches I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, who guided me, mentored me and encouraged me to push myself to reach my potential. One man in particular stands out, Frank Morris. From my first days at U8s in Rusheens right up to the present day, Frank has left an indelible mark on me, both on and off the field. His legacy will live forever in Corofin GAA.
“I also want to thank Kevin O’Brien and his management team, who worked so tirelessly and selflessly over the last number of years in facilitating us to fulfil our dreams of achieving the ultimate in club football. “Also, the officers at Corofin GAA, led by chairman, Michael Ryder, who have always looked after us so well.
“I want to thank our medical team, David Hanly and his team at Galway Sports Medicine, our team doctor Mark Heneghan and Dr Éanna Falvey at SSC – who undoubtedly prolonged my career longer than I could have ever imagined.
“I want to thank my wife Emer, my parents and my family who have all travelled this bumpy road with me along the way. They have always picked me up after so many lows and I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I am just so happy we could all share and experience some really great days also.
“To my teammates, the memories of standing arm-in-arm in the warm-up area underneath the Hogan Stand, with a feeling of total contentment and togetherness, after achieving our ultimate goals will be my most abiding memory and they are the ones I will miss the most.
“Finally, the GAA is my identity and it’s embedded in my DNA. I look forward to repaying the faith that Corofin GAA Club invested in me over the years, and in whatever way I can assist the next generation in making their dreams become a reality too, I will.”
There’s a video clip doing the rounds. You may have seen it. It’s set in a classroom in the year 2085, and the teacher is talking. “And that is going to finish up our chapter about 2019. Alright class I’m going to need you to flip to page 270, we’re going to talk about the year 2021.”