Friday, January 25, 2013
Wayne Fitzpatrick

Wayne Fitzpatrick

IN many ways, Wayne Fitzpatrick is just your average teenager.

He spends time with girlfriend Naomi, hopes to go to college when he completes his Leaving Cert next summer, and he loves to play football.

What sets him apart is his fantastic ability on the football field, in the blue of his club and the white of his county. 2012 was quite the year for somebody who only turned 17 last September. He scored 2-7 in the Leinster VEC final against Dublin, despite playing with a broker finger; went on to play in an all-Ireland final with that team, played in a Leinster semi-final against Dublin for the Kildare minors and then went on to win an intermediate and Leinster title with Monasterevan, kicking a nerveless last minute free to clinch that Leinster championship in Drogheda.

Fitzpatrick was at it against last Saturday week when he kicked seven of Kildare’s ten points as they booked a place in a second successive Leinster VEC final.

But it seems now that his enviable talent has put him in an unenviable position. That Leinster final against Longford has been brought forward to Friday but still takes place less than 48 hours before his club play against Munster champions Finuge in an all-Ireland semi-final.

He wants to play in the two games but doesn’t want to be at anything less than his absolute best for both teams and he is still unsure whether he will be able to play in both.

“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.

Last year he lined out for the Monasterevan senior team in a county final less than half an hour after finishing a minor B final so it’s not a situation that is completely alien to him.

“An all-Ireland semi final and a Leinster final, this is a completely different level completely,” he said.

Fitzpatrick is captain of the VEC team and is loath to let any of his friends or manager Delcan Cryan down but equally he wants to be right for the biggest game in his club’s history.

“Being captain of the VEC, I don’t want to let anybody down on that team and then I don’t want to let anybody down within the club either. Paschal (Kellaghan) hasn’t really talked to me about it yet but the club have told me that it is my decision and whatever I do they are fully behind me.”

Fitzpatrick has been on the go for about 18 months now since last year’s VEC team began to take shape.

“I come home and do a bit of homework and most evenings there is training on but that is what I would prefer to be doing, being kept busy with football,” he said.

And it won’t stop there either, As soon as Monasterevan are finished with the all-Ireland series, Fitzpatrick will be involved with the Kildare minors. Tiredness did catch up on him when Kildare met Longford in the first round of Leinster Vocational Schools shortly after Monasterevan had won their Leinster title before Christmas.

“The physio said I was just tired and needed to rest. I took a two week break after that game but came back then and was grand again,” he said.

Fitzpatrick has only played six competitive senior games for the club but already is an integral part of the team’s forward line – the highlight of his short time as a senior player being the winning score in the Leinster final.

“Everybody says that I must have felt nervous going up to take that free but being honest, I wasn’t nervous at all. I actually thought going up to take the free that there was longer left. I thought there was five or ten minutes left, I didn’t realise it was nearly the last kick of the game,” he said.

Not that he went wild celebrating after that, it was just a quiet night with his girlfriend.

“I didn’t go out at all, I was too tired. I just stayed in and watched a film,” he said.

But that one kick of a ball has left him on the brink of fulfilling a dream.

“It’s only 60 minutes away from my dream of playing at Croke Park. To play at Croke Park with your club and your friends, that won’t come round again,” he said.

With a player like Fitzpatrick, you get the feeling there is more than one big day ahead.

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