WILLIE Sunderland has been dealt another huge blow after the Kildare senior hurling manager confirmed that he is planning for the season ahead without the services of Martin Fitzgerald, writes John Ryan.
The Wexford native admitted following last Sunday’s Kehoe Cup home win over Derry that the talented Fitzgerald has dropped himself out of consideration for selection due to personal reasons.
“Martin Fitzgerald is a class hurler and obviously we, like a lot of other counties, would love to have him but Martin has a few things to do at the moment,” explained Sunderland.
The unavailability of the Ardclough clubman, who is equally adept in midfield or as a scoring forward, comes hot on the heels of the loss of ace-forward Conor Kenny, who prior to Christmas confirmed his transfer to Tipperary and clubside Borris-Ileigh, with whom his father Philip won a club All Ireland title with in 1987.
To compound Sunderland’s woes, he is also planning ahead without rising dual stars Fergal Conway (Celbridge) and Jonathan Byrne (Coill Dubh), both of whom are presently committed to the county U-21 footballers. Established seniors like John Doran (Leixlip) and Paul Dermody (Eire Og/Corrachoill) are currently out injured as well.
As for the 2-16 to 0-13 win over the Oak Leafers, Sunderland was especially pleased with his side’s second half showing, although he was less than satisfied with a lack of goals.
“It was a great second half performance and that should bring home to those guys there that if you do actually dominate a game, be that dominant force in a game, that it makes a bit easier,” continued Sunderland.
“And that is what I thought happened there; we were on the front foot, Derry were in disarray and I think that comes from applying the pressure, keeping the pressure on, doing the simple things and doing the simple things right.
“There were some lovely scores there and maybe we should have scored a bit more I suppose, but we can’t be too greedy when we get a victory like that.
“We should have had a couple of more goals and that is something that concerns me because we don’t score enough goals.
“Today at least we created the chances; we scored two and probably should have got two more. We have lovely forwards who like to get the ball in hand and shoot from long distances and get lovely points. But I think we need to be able to crack home a goal or two every game to give us a real good foundation that will help us get the necessary victories against the better teams. But we needed that game and we need to be playing at a different level every week in order to be prepared for where we are going to be in a couple of weeks’ time.” -John Ryan