It’s fair to say that Martin Fitzgerald saved his best hurling of the year for championship action this year. The Ardclough attacker was in sensational form for Kildare on Sunday as he spearheaded a fine display from the Lilywhites in their Christy Ring Cup opener as they battered Roscommon by 25 points.
Fitzgerald, who hadn’t played for the county in 2017, bagged 3-3 from play as he took the Rossies’ full-back line to the cleaners, with 2-3 of that arriving in the first half. Considering Fitzgerald scored 1-5 across the entire league campaign, it was a welcome return to his very best form.
“It’s good to put up a good scoreline and I think after a tough league campaign it’s always nice to get a win, but there are bigger tasks ahead for us over the next few weeks,” Fitzgerald told the Kildare Post.
“It was a tough league campaign because I was probably in and out of form. I had a real injury-plagued season last year where I didn’t play for Kildare once, so it was nice to get back with a bit of a bang today and hopefully I can continue it on for the rest of the season now.
“The ball delivery in was excellent, and that’s something we’re working on in training. That’s one of the plans we have and it came off today and we were allowed do it, and hopefully it can continue to come off for the rest of the campaign.”
It was a rather gentle start to the Christy Ring for Kildare, and Roscommon were probably the ideal team to face after the Lilywhites had been beaten in every game to date so far in 2018. With the Connacht side finishing mid-table in Division 3A, there was expected to be a gulf in class on the field, and it showed throughout the 70 minutes.
Fitzgerald admitted as much, but his focus is on the trip to Mayo next Saturday which will be absolutely crucial to Kildare’s hopes in this competition.
“We would have looked at the rounds, and no disrespect to them, but they are two divisions below us in the league,” he said.
“Our plan was to move the ball and to move the ball quicker than them and open up gaps. It’s a massive gap away to Mayo next week; they’re the games you want to be playing in. Mayo lost today Wicklow, so it will be an absolute battle. If we beat them, they’re out. It’s never easy going to Mayo and they’ve had a good campaign, so it’s all to play for.”
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