IT’S the kind of week you might dream about – a Leinster final and an all-Ireland semi-final – but for Kildare VEC captain Wayne Fitzpatrick a fixture pile-up has created a dilemma.
His school side play Longford on Friday night in Newtowncashel but his club, Monasterevan, are preparing for the biggest game in their history on Sunday when they take on Finuge in an all-Ireland semi-final.
“The VEC game being moved to Friday evening relieves a little bit of pressure but I don’t know what I am doing yet. I want to play both games. I’ve been told it’s my decision but I will have to think about it during the week,” he said.
His club manager, Pascal Kellaghan, is annoyed that the 17-year-old has been put in this position.
“I was above at a coaching conference in Croke Park and all the top men were there talking about player burnout. It’s ridiculous, the chap had to play two county finals on the same day last year. Ideally, I need Wayne Fitzpatrick very fresh for the semi-final. In a situation like this there is no such thing as priorities. The VEC team is full of his schoolmates, it’s a position that he shouldn’t be left in,” said Kellaghan.
Fitzpatrick’s club and family are leaving the decision up to him and having played two county finals in one day last year, the chances are he’ll line out for both sides this weekend. At least Kildare VEC manager Declan Cryan hopes so but it’s not easy to suit everyone when it comes to a schools team.
“These young lads are involved in so many teams. We were hoping to have a training session last Wednesday but my own school were playing Castledermot so straight away about eight or nine from the panel were involved there. On Tuesday, Maynooth were playing in the Dublin A colleges semi final, five of the starting team were playing there. Just in those two games there was about 13 of the panel tied up. Plus there are a couple of injuries, we’re still not sure about Mark Byrne, he only lasted about five minutes of the semi finals. Leon McCabe went off that day as well but he has improved and should be available. It’s very hard to get them together, as well as all that a lot of schools have mocks starting. We spent hours and hours to try and change the game, and in fairness Longford were accommodating, but with school games and mock exams it just proved impossible,” he said.
Last year, Kildare were beaten by Dublin in the opening round before coming back through the back door and beating the Metropolitans in the final. At the beginning of last December, Kildare were beaten by Longford by 2-14 to 2-03 but will be out for revenge this weekend.
Leinster VEC Final – Friday, 25 January: Longford v Kildare, 7.30pm, Newtowncashel