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Sunday 17 December 2017

Cuala man keeps sights fully focussed 'on the ball'

Kerry’s Tommy Walsh and Dublin’s Mick Fitzsimons during the opening round of this year’s league. Photo: Sportsfile
Kerry’s Tommy Walsh and Dublin’s Mick Fitzsimons during the opening round of this year’s league. Photo: Sportsfile

On the one hand, Mick Fitzsimons would seem the likeliest beneficiary of Rory O'Carroll's and Jack McCaffrey's recent doses of wanderlust.

Because whatever way you look at it, two of Dublin's starting six backs from the 2015 All-Ireland win aren't around anymore and Fitzsimons has the experience, form and now finally, fitness, to take advantage

On the other, he says, "I would have still fancied my chance to try to break into it," regardless of who was or wasn't around to compete with for a starting spot.

"For the last two years I have been injured so that is the main thing." he explained.

"You appreciate it more when you get a run like that.

"You maintain your fitness and your sharpness better, if you get a knock or a hamstring or a dead leg you lose out.

"With the competition in that team you won't get back in so it takes a bit of a hit."

As the days rumbled on towards last year's All-Ireland final and the main 'will he?/will wont he?' story of the week featuring daily bulletins on Cian O'Sullivan's old hair-trigger hamstrings, Fitzsimons was the man who, it was universally accepted, would step in.

Indeed, so assured had Fitzsimons been in the corner, there was merit in starting him regardless.

"I don't think we ever got to a stage where it seemed like the team was already set," he reflects now.

"When that is the case lads will get disillusioned. I don't think it changed too much.

"Even before there were spaces up for grabs people would still be quite motivated and on their toes," added the Cuala man.

"Maybe a few lads think they've more of a chance, but most years lads would consider themselves as possibles to get in.

"I sort of set a goal to try to get into the team," he admits now of his first really full, injury-free, season under Jim Gavin's management.

"I knew I probably wouldn't get in for the first few rounds (of last year's championship) because I didn't start until towards the end of the league.

Goal

"So I set a goal to get in for the quarter-final or semi-final.

"I thought I was going well," he admits with the aid of hindsight of that time between the All-Ireland semi-final replay and the final, "but that is just a little bit of selfishness".

He cites a hip injury as a scuppering force for his chances under Gavin until now when, even at this early juncture in the season, he looks entirely at home and thriving in the Dublin full-back line.

"If it had been unsuccessful," Fitzsimons says of the operation he had at the end of 2012, "and I had to get another one it might have been career-threatening.

"But yeah, it's just good to be fit and getting a run of games," concluded the Dublin defender.

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