GAA great Davy Fitzgerald will miss this old county’s All-Ireland Hurling Championship quarter-final clash with Limerick today after cruising into the second round of the South of Ireland Amateur Open at Lahinch.
The former keeper, 35, beat Connemara’s Kenneth Fahey 3 and 1 in the first round and will miss the action at Croke Park today as faces Newlands’ ace Cian Curley at 1 pm.
“I’m delighted to win,” he said afterwards. “But it means I won’t get to see the hurling match tomorrow. It’s on at two o’clock and I am off at one.”
Playing in steady afternoon rain, one-handicapper Fitzgerald was one down after six holes against 24-year-old Rhode Island graduate Fahey, a strapping one-handicapper with a distinctive mohican-style haircut.
“The bunker shot I hit at the seventh turned the match,” added Fitzgerald, who plays out of Dromoland Castle. “I had 35 yards to the pin from the front left bunker and hit it dead. I needed that not to go two down because Kenneth had nailed an iron to 10 feet for birdie and then missed.”
After levelling the match at the eighth, Fitzgerald went one up with a par at the 10th and never looked back. A pitch and putt birdie at the 297-yard 13th put him two holes in front and while he lost the tough 15th to a par, regulation figures at the 16th and 17th gave him a deserved 3 and 1 victory.
“I am playing a good few years now,” he explained, “and I’ve played twice in this before but never got the chance to focus properly because I was playing an All Ireland quarter-final a week or so after. This time I had no problem that way and I got three or four good weeks to prepare.”
The big guns will roll into action today with Co Louth’s Simon Ward set to begin his defence of the title against Limerick’s Michael Kemmy while last year’s beaten finalist Darren Crowe will take on Lee Valley’s Sean Barry in the first match of the day at 7 am.