Michael Fitzsimons: Dublin relishing road trip

Dublin defender Michael Fitzsimons had no truck with questions about the Donegal County Board’s query about the All-Ireland champions’ residence in Croke Park.

Ahead of the Leinster and Ulster champions visit to GAA headquarters on Saturday evening, he said: “I wouldn’t pay much attention to it. We don’t read the papers. And I don’t tend to start trying to analyse things from Donegal’s perspective. I’m just going out to play games and we leave all that aside.

“I wouldn’t pay any attention to it. It might sound ignorant but it’s out of our control. As a player, you find out where the game is and then you turn up and play. And that’s all I can do.”

Pressed on how he would feel if Dublin had only one Super 8 game in Croke Park, he fired back: “It just sounds like you’re shaping the question for me to say ‘Michael Fitzsimons would have no problem with the game…’ I have no influence in this. And I know it’s a sensitive subject so I don’t want to be speaking about it. It’s a build-up to the game. But from my point of view, I don’t pay attention to it. That’s Donegal’s corner to fight, as Kildare did.”

What Fitzsimons is happy to discuss is Dublin going on the road for the second time in the Championship this year when they face Tyrone in Omagh the weekend after next.

“To go and play in Omagh is always a great opportunity. Going away there in the league, those northern stadiums and those northern teams, there’s always a great atmosphere.

“So I can only imagine it will be doubled or trebled during the summer.

“I think the last time, in Laois, we unearthed an Eoghan O’Gara chant that we were all singing on the way home. They were singing it down there when he came on. Stuff like that. They’re just small things but it’s good craic with fans travelling.

“Then the last game, Cuala organised a bus going down when we were playing Wicklow in Portlaoise. I missed it but the other lads saw it — they broke down on the way, so they were all sitting out the ledge when they drove past.”

No Paddy McBrearty for Donegal this weekend will make things slightly easier for the likes of Fitzsimons, even if he obviously won’t admit as much.

“They’ve scored some amount so far in each of their games. It’s a pity for them, he’s a top forward. Such a threat. Anywhere. Inside the ’45 or outside. But their forwards are still great. Jamie Brennan, they can throw any of their players out around the half-forward line.”

The spectre of the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final loss to Donegal is never too far away when the counties meet in Championship.

“Yeah, we learned a huge amount from it. And I remember Cork in 2010 was the same. We learned a huge amount from that as well. We had a chance to get to a final and we blew it.

“We were in a good position until 25 minutes into it but there was so much learning in that game. We had to do a lot of analysis.

“There was a lot of soul-searching. People had to figure out where they went wrong individually, where we went wrong as a team, at what stages we could have addressed it and what we needed to bring into next year. 2015 was a great year then.

“We addressed the flaws in our game and we got the result at the end of it.

“But it was a tough end to the summer.”

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