Brutally honest 'Cha' reveals reasons for early retirement 10 years ago

Brutally honest 'Cha' reveals reasons for early retirement

Isn’t 26 a bit young to retire from inter-county hurling? Not for James ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick, who sensationally called it a day with the Kilkenny hurlers last night.

Fitzpatrick’s decision to hang up his hurl caused shockwaves throughout the hurling community. After all, here was a guy who captained the Cats to the All-Ireland title only three years ago and has five All-Ireland titles and three All-Stars to his name.

Advertisement

In any other county that would be an enviable achievement for an entire career, but it is par for the course in Kilkenny.

Still in his mid-twenties, however, Fitzpatrick could have ran up a Henry Shefflin and Tommy Walsh-like haul of medals had he kept going for just a few more years, but with a lack of starting opportunities and the game of hurling increasingly favouring stronger, fitter and faster players, the Ballyhale man felt there was no point hanging around.

“I haven’t been able to nail down a place on the team for a while. As I don’t think I’m getting any faster, it is time to go,” he said.

“No matter what I did in training last season, no matter how well I played, it didn’t seem like I was going to get a go at all.

Advertisement

“If I was going to come back next year I would find the motivation very hard because deep down inside no matter what I did in training I didn’t think I was going to be picked.

“So I couldn’t, in 12 months time, be in the same situation. I’m going to do a bit of travelling over the summer.”

The above comments could be interpreted as a swipe at all-seeing, all-conquering Kilkenny boss Brian Cody for ignoring Fitzpatrick’s efforts to claim a starting spot, but it was more the constant struggle to keep up that made up Cha’s mind and although inter-county comebacks are ten a penny these days, he was quite insistent that there would be no turning back.

“I’m going to draw a line in the sand,” he added.

Advertisement

“One of the things that came against me was my lack of speed. I have great hurling and vision but the way the game is gone, it just requires huge, huge fitness levels and speed.

“It’s been a wonderful journey with Kilkenny. I have been captain in ’08. We wouldn’t have won so much without the talent in the squad so I’m very grateful for that.”