Dar­ragh strikes gold for Gar­den

Bray People - - SPORT -

WHEN Wick­low needed some­thing spe­cial to kill off the fal­ter­ing Offaly chal­lenge they pos­sessed a will­ing war­rior in the form of AGB’s Dar­ragh Fitzger­ald.

In­tro­duced in the 67th minute for John McGrath, Fitzger­ald had proved busy around the field but it was his ex­cep­tional burst of pace that took him through the heart of the Offaly de­fence and then his sub­lime and con­fi­dent fin­ish un­der Faith­ful net­min­der Alan Mul­hall that earned him the slaps on the back and the ad­mi­ra­tion of all Wick­low GAA fol­low­ers in the af­ter­math of the su­perb vic­tory in O’Moore Park last Sun­day.

Fitzger­ald, a gen­tle­man through and through it must be said, spoke to the Wick­low Peo­ple after the game and said that as play­ers they knew they had it in them to go on and win this game.

“We went in at half-time and we were down, you know, but we knew we had it in us, we’ve been prac­tic­ing all year. We hadn’t per­formed in the league, we knew we had it, we just couldn’t get it to click and with the likes of Leighton (Glynn) and John Evans they re­ally dragged it out of us for the sec­ond half,” he said.

“We went in level at the end of the game and we just said, “look, lads, we have this in us”. Our strength and con­di­tion­ing coach John Barry is, in our opin­ion, the best in the coun­try and you could see there how it ben­e­fited us in ex­tra-time, we had the legs, we were fly­ing, you’d swear it was the first half of nor­mal time,” he added.

As well as that su­perb goal, the AGB man also put his body on the line when win­ning a dirty ball around the mid­dle of the field in a move that left him open to po­ten­tial in­jury. Know­ing that he was be­ing pre­sented with a chance to prove him­self meant that there was no way Fitzger­ald was go­ing to give any­thing less than his all when re­quired.

“John Evans said to me be­fore we went out for the sec­ond half of ex­tra-time, he said to me, “you’re here to prove your­self, so do it”. And I just said if I have to put my body on the line, that’s what I’m go­ing to do. And it’s not just me, it’s one to 35 or what­ever and that’s in­clud­ing the lads not in the panel to­day,” he said.

The dif­fi­cult league cam­paign looked to be a mil­lion miles away as the evening shad­ows fell across a ju­bi­lant Wick­low panel and sup­port­ers on the field in Port­laoise. Fitzger­ald said they be­lieved in them­selves com­pletely and the hunt for a start­ing berth has helped them drive each other on.

“If you don’t have be­lief in your­self you won’t get any­where. You have to be­lieve in your­self. We might have been lack­ing be­lief over the years, but we re­ally have it in­stalled in us now. The panel was so tough for the guys to pick, ev­ery­one is push­ing each other and we’re men­tally strong as well as phys­i­cally strong,” he said.

On his goal, the AGB man was as al­ways gra­cious and de­flect­ing of any praise.

“If you watch it again you’ll see the run­ners off my shoul­ders, the likes of Cathal Magee and the lads off me, they opened up the space,” he said.

Dar­ragh Fitzger­ald turns from the Offaly goal after his fine strike.

Wick­low’s Dar­ragh Fitzger­ald fin­ishes to the back of the Offaly net.

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