'There's music every Thursday, and has been for years' - City club with that tight-knit country vibe 5 months ago

'There's music every Thursday, and has been for years' - City club with that tight-knit country vibe

Na Fianna are preparing for their first Dublin senior football final in 17 years but for Alistair Fitzgerald, it actually feels like he's been waiting his whole life for this day.

Sunday can't come quick enough.


Born in '96, Fitzgerald was perhaps too young to vividly remember the glory days, when, between '99 and '01, Na Fianna won three Dublin senior football titles in a row, but it's funny the things that stick with you.

And why does the bad often outweigh the good?

His childhood heroes, from Jayo to Geezer to Dessie to Seno were all playing that day in '01, when Na Fianna were stunned by Rathnew in the Leinster final and even though he was only a gossun, Fitzgerald still remembers the heartbreak.

"I remember tears coming out of my eyes, and being supported by my mam," he recalls.


Na Fianna haven't played a Leinster championship game since. But as the team's captain, and even though it's all eyes on Kilmacud Crokes for now, he'll be hoping to lead them into a provincial campaign very soon.

"Even being four, five, six years old [when Na Fianna last won Dublin titles], I have the memories of being back in the club after games, meeting players like Geezer, and Dessie, and Jayo - club icons, national icons.

"The likes of Senan Connell, Steo McGlinchey, Tommo Lynch, all these lads are huge supporters. They're not directly involved with the team this year, but have been in the past. The likes of Dan McGowan. 


"They are always around. Seno will chat about anything. If you gave him the opportunity, he'd be in there chatting. You'd see them after games, see them in the bar. They are always giving words of wisdom - sometimes a lot of words of wisdom!

"That's great, it ties back in with seeing those lads when you're younger, and looking up to those lads. Those boys are still a huge part of the community and the team now," adds Fitzgerald.

"You always think back to those days when you're in the nursery, coming up through the ages, or even at senior level.

"That was always the Na Fianna team that you want to be like - you wanted to have something like that for your own team, for yourself. You think back on their stories, and hope that in 20 years time, that there will be somebody else sitting up here talking about our team."


It's easy to see why Fitzgerald, who made minor and under-21 Dublin panels, is the captain of this team. He admits that, being a Dublin club, having so many members and so many teams, it can be hard to foster a community spirit but that's why he's so proud of what they have. The hurlers have also made it to the county senior final, as have the camogie team and Fitzgerald says that, in Na Fianna, they're all as tight as could be.

26 September 2021; Alistair Fitzgerald of Na Fianna in action against Conal Keaney of Ballyboden St Enda's during the Go Ahead Dublin Senior Club Football Championship Group 1 match between Ballyboden St Endas and Na Fianna at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

"Everyone gets behind the teams, no matter if it's a junior hurling game or senior football game.

"There's always crowds out watching games. The bar is a big community hub now. The lads are down there playing music every Thursday, and have been for years. The club, it really feels like a home.


"Even the coffee Bua, that's on the corner, right at the game. It's always full of Na Fianna people. Na Fianna people bleeding out the gate. There's just a real sense of home there. A lot of friendships made, and continued over the last few years."

"Obviously Donal Ryan and Conor McHugh are playing for both," Fitzgerald says of their dual dreams.

"We've got plenty of talks, or sessions together. It all just feels like one, even with the ladies footballers, and the camogie. The four senior adult teams are really bonded at the moment. It seems that over the last couple of years, that's got stronger. "

But for now, it's all about themselves. It's tunnel-vision and, for many of them, it's one of the biggest days of their lives.

"Ask anyone on our team, we've had a lot of humbling moments over the last few years. Maybe years where we thought we were closer than we were. 

"It's the pain of other years that motivates you to keep going. Especially last year was a tough one to take. If you can reference back to that feeling we had after the quarter-final [last year] and put the energy into that for this year, it's a big one."

Go-Ahead Ireland Media Event Ahead of the Dublin Senior Football & Hurling Championships 11/10/2022
Proud sponsors of the Dublin GAA Club Championships, Go-Ahead Ireland today hosted a media event with Shane Cunningham of Kilmacud Crokes and Alasdar Fitzgerald of Na Fianna pictured ahead of Sunday’s Go-Ahead Dublin Senior Football Championship final taking place in Parnell Park at 4.30pm.
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy