Corofin legend Kieran Fitzgerald announces retirement
By David Connors
KIERAN Fitzgerald, one Gaelic football's most decorated players, has called time on a senior career which spanned across four decades.
The 39-year-old bows out at the very top after winning his fourth All-Ireland senior club football title with Corofin in January, completing an historic three in-a-row in the process, with their victory over Down’s Kilcoo in the final.
The towering defender was also instrumental in Galway’s last Sam Maguire Cup success back in 2001 and collected an All-Star for his performances that season.
Fitzgerald's retirement from inter-county football came in 2011, however his incredible career with Corofin is what he’ll be best remembered for.
Winning a record 14 Galway senior titles, seven Connachts, along with the aforementioned four Andy Merrigan Cups that followed late in his career at the age of 34 onwards.
A consummate professional throughout his playing days, Fitzgerald's consistency and high standards every time he took to the field will see him go down as one of the true greats of GAA.
In an exclusive statement to The Tuam Herald, Fitzgerald said: “It’s hard to put into words the enjoyment and satisfaction I have experienced while playing the sport I love for over 30 years.
“It was an absolute honour to play for Corofin GAA Club and for Galway. Although we had ups and downs, I loved it and if I could do it all again - I would!
“I am continually overwhelmed and humbled by the support and goodwill I have received down through the years from all corners of the GAA community both in good times and bad.
“I want to thank all the great coaches I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, who guided me, mentored me and encouraged me to push myself to reach my potential. One man in particular stands out, Frank Morris. From my first days at U8s in Rusheens right up to the present day, Frank has left an indelible mark on me, both on and off the field. His legacy will live forever in Corofin GAA.
“I also want to thank Kevin O’Brien and his management team, who worked so tirelessly and selflessly over the last number of years in facilitating us to fulfil our dreams of achieving the ultimate in club football. Also, the officers at Corofin GAA, led by chairman, Michael Ryder, who have always looked after us so well.
“I want to thank our medical team, David Hanly and his team at Galway Sports Medicine, our team doctor Mark Heneghan and Dr Éanna Falvey at SSC – who undoubtedly prolonged my career longer than I could have ever imagined.
“I want to thank my wife Emer, my parents and my family who have all travelled this bumpy road with me along the way. They have always picked me up after so many lows and I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I am just so happy we could all share and experience some really great days also.
“To my teammates, the memories of standing arm-in-arm in the warm-up area underneath the Hogan Stand, with a feeling of total contentment and togetherness, after achieving our ultimate goals will be my most abiding memory and they are the ones I will miss the most.
“Finally, the GAA is my identity and it’s embedded in my DNA. I look forward to repaying the faith that Corofin GAA Club invested in me over the years, and in whatever way I can assist the next generation in making their dreams become a reality too, I will.”