ForMER All-Star James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick has no intention of departing the Kilkenny hurling scene.
Speculation was rife in the lead up to the All-Ireland final against Tipperary and it has continued since that the Ballyhale Shamrocks man was on his way to Dublin, but nothing could be further from the truth.
“I have no intention of transferring anywhere,” the 26-year-old told the ’People when asked about the story doing the rounds.
“I won’t be seen in blue or any other colours but the Kilkenny and Shamrocks colours.”
The rumour mill went into overdrive when Fitzpatrick failed to nail down a starting place on the Kilkenny team this season, although his form was good in training and on the club scene.
In the League final on Saturday he was absolutely fantastic when playing at midfield, and he produced some of his best and most influential hurling in ages.
The story was, apparently, partly fuelled by the success of Dublin this season. Add in the fact that Fitzpatrick is a primary school teacher based in the capital, and the basis of a good argument for a transfer appeared to be there.
This season the Dubs made a big capture when Tipperary’s Ryan Dwyer transferred from Cashel King Cormacks to Kilmacud Crokes before throwing in his lot with the blues.
Speculation had ‘Cha’ following a similar path.
“I wouldn’t leave Kilkenny or the Shamrocks, who are one off the best clubs in the country with a great record,” insisted the former young hurler of the year (2006).
“We will give it a good lash in the local championship this season and with a bit of luck who knows where we might end up.”
Fitzpatrick admitted he had heard the talk, but there was never a grain of truth in it.
“I think people must just make up these stories,” he smiled. “I suppose they saw I wasn’t playing with Kilkenny and things took off from there.
“I am very happy in the Kilkenny set-up. Of course it was frustrating that I didn’t get going this year and was on the bench, but I don’t think I would be wanted in the set-up if I hadn’t ambition.
“You keep your head down, keep working and keep hurling. That is all you can do. Anyway, the lads were brilliant this year.
“You couldn’t but admire them. I know I did and I felt a part of the brilliant achievement that was winning the All-Ireland.
“It was fantastic to be part of such a great panel. To come back after the disappointment of last year and win a fifth All-Ireland in six years was a phenomenal achievement.”
Fitzpatrick, who joined the panel in 2004, has a hurling CV second to none. His honours include five senior All-Irelands, three National Leagues, three All-Star awards and four Kilkenny senior hurling championship plus two All-Ireland club successes.
The Kilkenny party will jet out to the tropical paradise of Cancun (Mexico) for a well earned holiday early in the New Year, and James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick will be part of the group then and beyond.
Meanwhile, the draws for the senior and intermediate hurling championship quarter-finals, which will be played this weekend, threw up some very interesting clashes (see fixtures page 19).
SHC quarter-finals – Ballyhale Shamrocks v Carrickshock; O’Loughlin/Gaels v Dicksboro or Clara; St Martin’s (Muckalee) v Fenians (Johnstown); James Stephens v Graigue-Ballycallan.
The ’Boro and Clara drew at the weekend, and the reply will be on Saturday in Jenkinstown (2pm). The three quarter-finals will be played on Sunday.
IHC quarter-finals – Rower-Inistioge v Mullinavat; Danesfort v John Lockes (Callan); Glenmore v Conahy Shamrocks; Mooncoin v St Lachtain’s.
JHC quarter-finals – O’Loughlin-Gaels v Mooncoin; St Patrick’s (Ballyragget) v Thomastown; Galmoy v Lisdowney; Piltown v Slieverue.
The senior semi-finals will be played on October 9 with the county final on October 23.
The intermediate semi-finals will be played on the weekend of October 1/2 with the final on October 16.