Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons Arrived Into The Senior Set-Up Via The Junior Grade
Dublin’s Michael Fitzsimons made his 100th appearance for the senior team last Saturday night against Louth and capped the milestone by scoring his first ever point.
Since making his senior debut against Wexford in 2010 it’s been an interesting road for Michael Fitzsimons to reach the century club and there have been a few small bumps in the journey along the way.
Although the Cuala man is chasing his seventh senior All Ireland title it’s a far cry from his underage years which were barran of silverware.
Fitzsimons arrived into the senior set-up via the Junior grade. ‘Fitzy‘ was a member of the Dublin Junior team that won the 2008 All Ireland title.
Back then the Dublin Junior squad was seen at the stepping stone from underage to senior and that team of 2008 included alongside Fitzsimons, Denis Bastick, Eoghan O’Gara, Johnny Cooper and Darragh Daly.
In his first year at senior level in 2010 thoughts of winning one All Ireland title let alone multiple titles were probably further from Fitzsimons mind when the Dubs were hammered by Meath in the Leinster semi final by 5-09 to 0-13.
But just over a year later and Michael Fitzsimons became the first Cuala player to start an All Ireland Final since the late Mick Holden in 1983.
He again was a mainstay in the Dublin defence for their run to the All Ireland semi final in 2012. At that point Fitzsimons looked to be in for a long stay in the Dublin starting 15, but shortly after that semi final defeat Pat Gilroy stepped down as manager and with the arrival of Jim Gavin Fitzsimons had to prove himself all over again.
In Gavin’s first year in charge in the championship Fitzsimons didn’t see any game time and his first appearance in a Dublin jersey in the championship under Jim Gavin didn’t arrive till the 2014 Leinster semi final against Laois when he was introduced as a substitute in the 63rd minute.
The Cuala man though started the Leinster Final and remained in the team till Dublin’s exit to Donegal in the All Ireland semi final.
The 2015 championship seen Michael back on the bench for the entire championship-but he did appear in every single game as a substitute including the All Ireland final win over Kerry.
2016 was much the same for Fitzsimons as he was confined to substitute appearances until the All Ireland Final replay against Mayo and Michael grabbed the opportunity of his first championship start of the year with both hands with a ferocious performance which earned him the man of the match award.
Since then he has all but owned a starting position, he started every championship game in 2017 and last year started five of Dublin’s eight games and appeared in the other three from the bench.
Another top display last Saturday in his 100th appearance in Sky Blue as well as Fitzsimons performances in the league earlier in the year see him with his hand firmly in the air for a starting jersey for the rest of the championship.
An unsung hero in the current Dublin team since 2010 the Cuala man is a physical, tight marking defender with pace and an excellent reader of the game and just like a good wine gets better with age.