Hands worth a half a million, balls on fire and life inside the Ballyhale Shamrocks' dressing room
"Cha Fitzpatrick is Charlie Sheen’s idol.”
Playing in an All-Ireland club final is a novelty for most teams throughout the country, but it is almost a matter of routine for Ballyhale Shamrocks.
No hurling club in the country can match the five All-Ireland titles won by the storied Kilkenny club, who have lost just one of the six finals they have contested since 1979.
The club of current Kilkenny greats such as TJ Reid, the Fennelly brothers and some fella called Shefflin will be hoping to make it six out of seven against Limerick side Kilmallock on St. Patrick’s Day and it would be a brave man who would bet against them.
In the lead-up to the game, we caught up with former Kilkenny star James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, who told us everything you wanted to know about life inside the Ballyhale dressing room but were too afraid to ask.
Spotlight on Ballyhale Shamrocks
Club: Ballyhale Shamrocks
Club colours: White and green trim.
Year established: 1972
Estimated size of population covered by parish: 1500-2000 people
Proudest moment in the club’s history? Five previous club All-Irelands
Most loyal/fanatical supporter? Joan Fowler (Sells ice to Eskimos to make a buck for the club!)
Best Nickname: Richie 'Captain Underpants' Reid. He mans the goal and is the younger brother of TJ. However, in reality, Richie is only a chap trying to fill a man's underpants.
Most likely player to be found on Tinder: Conor Walsh regularly creeps on Tinder but a recent spate of fraudulent beautiful women (seeking credit card details) have hampered his progression. He now resides on Tinder rival, 'Badoo'.
Player to most likely break beer ban: Cha Fitzpatrick. He is Charlie Sheen's idol.
Player who dresses like it's 1999: Henry Shefflin. He does his annual shopping in and around the car boot sale in Folkstown (Kilkenny). Apart from that, he depends on his Puma supply.
Henry Shefflin: Style icon
Player you wouldn't like to meet down a dark alley-way: Aidan 'Frank the Tank' Cummins. He doesn't believe in Santa Claus, hasn't smiled since his 10th birthday and eats six-inch nails regularly as his source of iron.
Biggest shaper on the pitch: Alan Cuddihy. Just watch him stroll around Croke Park on Paddy's Day dreaming about his next date.
Is there any player who still wears Mikasa gloves? TJ Reid. He doesn't wear Mikasa gloves but wears an ash guard as he has his hands insured for half a million quid.
That trophy is in safe hands; they are insured for half a million quid after all
Oldest player to have ever played for the club? Michael "Wobbles" Fennelly. He is the current chairman of the club and he played until he was 50.
Won All-Irelands at 'Masters' level with Kilkenny. Eventually he was blown over by a gust of wind and did his knee, forcing him to retire.
Best GAA Junior A story: As Captain of the Junior A team, 'Dancing' Dan Fitz once turned up for a Sunday match after overdoing the cure that morning.
To obscure the smell of beer, he sprayed deep heat all over his groins. The whole dressing room had to be evacuated with the fumes as Dancing Dan's balls were on fire.
He broke a couple of hurleys off the physio table before the match for good measure. Dan's hurling failed to ignite that day, but it left us with a great tale to tell.