"The bigger the challenge, the more Fitzy would want to keep them scoreless"
It was a sad Sunday in the parish of Corofin, according to the club's chairman Michael Ryder.
A fine wine, a willing stalwart. They thought he could go on forever but alas, miracle man Kieran Fitzgerald, one of the most decorated players in the history of club GAA, has brought the curtain down after a lifetime in the green and gold.
Fitzy's seat in the dressing room will be vacated for the first time in 23 years upon the GAA's resumption and in Corofin, his defensive instincts, his whole-hearted dedication and his irreplaceable warmness will be sorely missed.
They talk about leaving the jersey in a better place than you found it. Fitzgerald, along with a number of his distinguished peers, brought that Corofin jersey to some heavenly highs.
4 decades for the cause 🏐@CorofinGAA and Galway legend Kieran Fitzgerald is finally hanging up his boots, according to @TuamHerald
Won his first Galway senior title in 1998 and his 14th last year 🏆
What an incredible servant to his sport he has been 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/m5Vb0Adz0j
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) April 26, 2020
A stand-out talent from a young age, Michael Ryder recalls the high regard coach Frank Morris held him in, the high hopes the club had for that fearless Féile team who would go on to rip up the history books.
"One of the greatest," says Ryder of the man, who confirmed his retirement in a statement to the Tuam Herald.
"To win 14 county medals, seven Connachts, four All-Irelands, ah it's incredible. They had a great under-14 Féile team and he was a key man since then."
"Kieran has always been a great servant of the club/county. He is a pure gentleman who always looks after everybody else. I suppose that's one of the things we'll miss most about him is his ability to work with other people and to bring other players around him and drive them on with him, especially when a game was getting close or was coming to its most important stages.
"His presence in a dressing room will be sadly missed, Kieran's presence was enormous and he leaves a huge legacy to aspire to..."
Since 1998, he's been a member of the Corofin senior team. But the pace never weaned, the desire never sated, the club chairman insists that Fitzgerald right up to his final seasons, was eager to line out in League matches for Corofin.
"The training was curtalied a bit in the latter years because of injuries but that's how dedicated he was that he kept it going. He wanted to play every game Fitzy, he was mad to play League games. He would always make sure that he'd have himself right on the big day..."
There have been many of them.
"He relished the big challenge of marking the big players, the likes of Cillian O'Connor. The bigger the challenge, the more Fitzy would want to keep them scoreless. He got great satisfaction out of playing them lads and giving it his all. God, he will be sadly missed."
They all had to earn it off Fitzgerald.
"Huge role model, it was like a downer in the club yesterday. It was one of those when the master itself finally decided to call time...he owes the club nothing. We owe him everything, a huge, huge servant"
The next Corofin number three has big boots to fill.