Ireland U20s star Stephen Fitzgerald on choosing rugby over Limerick hurling
Hurling or rugby? It is a gigantic decision to make in Limerick.
Stephen Fitzgerald has proved to be one of the star attractions in an Irish Under-20s side that have displayed a free-flowing nature in the 2015 championship.
The Munster winger comes from a sporting family and has followed in the footsteps of his father, John [pictured below], who was on the Limerick senior hurling panel and won an All-Ireland minor title with The Treaty County.
Fitzgerald told us, 'Sport has always been heavily involved for our family and my other brother plays hurling too. My mam loves all sport as well.'
Fitzgerald says he was never pushed in the direction of hurling. 'My father always wanted us to try out everything and whichever one really made us happy and we enjoyed more,' he said. 'I enjoyed playing hurling,but rugby was always a game I preferred playing or I'd look forward to going out to play.'
Fitzgerald's younger brother, Conor, was part of the Ardscoil Rís team that lost the Munster Senior Schools Cup to Rockwell on St Patrick's Day. The U20s winger can commiserate with his sibling.
He said, 'I was captain and we got a bit of a beating from Comp [Crescent College], they'd be our local rivals so it was devastating alright.'
Turning 20 in November means this is Fitzgerald's one and only chance to impress at this level and, if selected, this summer's Junior World Cup. He will go back to the Munster Academy for 2015/16 and hope to do enough, in the coming years, to earn a developmental or senior contract. He has made several Munster A appearances and has already featured in a pre-season match with the senior team.
He said, 'Donncha O'Callaghan was playing in that match. It was kind of surreal, because I was just out of school and focusing on playing for Munster 20s that year. Then the couple of injuries, after the Sevens, and I was called.
'It was an incredible day to be involved in. I remember before the match I had never been so nervous in my life. I supported Munster all my life and it would have been a dream to ever put on the jersey and take to the pitch.'