Kieran Fitzgerald played club football with Corofin from 1998 to 2020, winning 14 County titles, seven Connacht, and four All-Ireland’s. He also played with Galway from 2001 to 2011 winning three Connacht titles, one All-Ireland, and one All-Star. He won two Connacht titles and one All-Ireland at under 21 level.
Tell me about your childhood?
I was born at midnight on 1st January 1981(the first baby that year), in a village called Ballintleva. It was a simple childhood where every free minute revolved around kicking a football or swinging a hurl. I went to Sylane,10 minutes from Tuam, and then secondary school in St Jarlath’s College.
When did you start playing football?
I started playing organised football at the age of 8 when I joined the Corofin GAA Club under 10’s. We met up every Saturday morning in Belclare, where we learned all the skills of the game under coach Frank Morris.
What players did you look up to as a teenager?
I admired Ja Fallon as he was a Tuam man who was nationally regarded as one of the best footballers of his era. He was very relatable to us as he was our local postman for a time. Also, Seamus Moynihan from Kerry because he was a defender with all the skills of the game and played in my position of full-back. I would study his gameplay and try to pick up some of his good habits and traits.
Away from sport, what did you want to be growing up?
I always liked the idea of being a Garda and loved the connection between the GAA and the Gardai. During my teenage years, there were many GAA sportsmen who were intercounty footballers/hurlers that worked in An Garda Siochána.
What was it like being involved with such a hugely successful club like Corofin?
It was a very enjoyable time as a Corofin player. I was very fortunate to have played when there were so many talented young footballers coming through in the club who were ambitious and had a huge desire to improve and develop their natural abilities. Also, within the club itself, the management and administration were forward-thinking and ambitious and gave us every opportunity to fulfill our potential. Together everyone achieves more.
2001 was your first year on the Galway Senior Football team: What was it like to win the All-Ireland and pick up an All-Star?
It was a special moment in my sporting career. I am extremely grateful to John O’Mahoney to have given me the opportunity to join that hugely talented squad. We had an amazing journey that year and I suppose it’s only in recent years when you retire from playing GAA that you fully realise what a special time that was.
A year later you had further success with the under 21’s. Did playing senior with Galway the previous year help you in terms confidence and experience?
Absolutely, there were about 5 or 6 players who were involved in the senior squad in 2001 who played in the 2002 U21 Final. It gave us all such belief and confidence to push the boundaries of our potential. We fully believed that we would win if we performed to our potential which thankfully, we did on that day in Portlaoise. It was another special moment with a special group of young men.
Can you tell me about 2006 and making your international rules debut?
After the intercounty season finished, I was invited to take part in trials along with several other Galway players for selection in the International Rules Squad. So, every Friday evening/Saturday morning for 8/9 weeks, players from all over the country met in Westmanstown in Dublin for trials. Luckily, I was selected in the final squad for a 2-test series versus Australia. The first test was in Galway on a Saturday evening under lights in Pearse Stadium and a full house. It was an amazing atmosphere and to get the opportunity to play football against professional athletes and to see how you could compete was interesting. It was a very proud moment for me and my family to represent my country.
What is the best advice you got over the years?
You can’t change the past, focus on the next ball.
If you could pick your favorite moment in your football career, what would it be?
Running onto the hallowed ground of Croke Park representing my club Corofin.
Do you miss it?
Yes, but I had my time and enjoyed it.