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All-Ireland in August would help clubs: 'Cha'

JAMES FITZPATRICK has joined the chorus of discommoded club players calling for the All-Ireland senior hurling final to be played in August.

The man known throughout Ireland simply as 'Cha' retired from the inter-county game three years ago, while still only 26, but proved in last Sunday's Kilkenny SHC final that class is forever.

After a dynamic display that helped Ballyhale Shamrocks to a sixth county title since 2006, Fitzpatrick is now gearing up for a Leinster club semi-final date with Kilmacud Crokes at Parnell Park this Sunday.

But he's adamant that county finals shouldn't be delayed until the middle of November.

Reflecting on how the local championship was "dragged out" with this year's All-Ireland final going to a replay, Fitzpatrick declared: "To be honest, I think the inter-county final could be brought forward.

"There is a break between the Munster and Leinster final of six or seven weeks to the All-Ireland semi-finals at inter-county level.

"The All-Ireland final should be played in the middle of August because hurling at this time of year ... we are lucky (last Sunday) it wasn't too bad, but hurling is supposed to be a fast game on good ground.

"Look it, we are not complaining - we won."

POMP

During his own inter-county pomp, Fitzpatrick won three consecutive All Stars as a midfield dynamo (2006-08) but he had been reduced to a bit-part role by 2011, a year that culminated in a fifth All-Ireland senior medal but also retirement that November.

Last Sunday, his penchant for hoovering up breaking ball and using it intelligently (clipping two points into the bargain) was to the fore as Ballyhale overwhelmed the holders, Clara.

"Look it, (Brian) Cody can ring away," he laughed, batting away questions about an unlikely Kilkenny comeback. "I'm happy enough playing away there."

More seriously, a player who only turns 30 in January added: "I had my time in the sun at inter-county level and if I was giving any young lad advice going into it, it's 100 per cent commitment.

"You have to be prepared to put everything to the side. Fair play to the lads who do get involved. But I see hurling as a pastime for me and I really enjoyed that (final). You have to put in the hard work too."

As for Ballyhale's next step, Fitzpatrick stressed that their main aim at the start of the year was winning a county final, but he went on: "We'll go ahead and represent Kilkenny. Anything that comes from now is a bonus. No question about it, we are good enough to go further."


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