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Tim Fitzgerald R.I.P.
Tim's illness was well known in recent weeks but he had battled bravely for the most of a year, still when the news spread on Sunday afternoon it was received with shock and an great sense of loss and the void that has now to be filled is a huge one. Tim's work was endless and tireless, firstly on behalf of his club, Charleville FC, who can now boast one of the finest facilities in the country for which he was the driving force, his league, Limerick County, where he was a very active Secretary, acting Child Welfare officer, web master and FAI representative and his logical thinking and wise solutions to problems was in demand everywhere and last summer he was appointed to the FAI Board. Along with all these duties, he was Vice Chairman of the SFAI since 2011 and he was co-ordinator of the Kennedy cup at UL and this year became SFAI Chairman, a proud moment for our small league. "Ask Tim and he will know" and he always did or if one needed to clarify any information it was always "call Tim". He spent about 25 years as an officer of our league, was SFAI representative for the most of 20 of these years. Representative was a lonely job which needed extraordinary dedication, hitting out from the station at Charleville in the early hours to Dublin and travelling back late at night which was done uncomplainingly for all those years, a task that now won't have too many volunteers.
As a schoolboy Tim used to thumb in to see Limerick at the Markets Field in the 70s and one Sunday afternoon was picked up by Jimmy Nodwell. a Corkman playing with Limerick, and he made sure to flag down Jimmy for the remainder of the season, one of the reasons which inculcated his love for our game where he has left an indelible legacy. He managed some underage teams up to youths for Charleville in the late 80s and early 90s and I was his counterpart at Kilmallock at that time and we had many memorable games, often in the smaller field in what was known as the Deerpark inclosure. He was a great motivator and tactician and never resorted to shouting at his charges who were energized by his quiet and confident demeanour in those long past and wonderful days. I can still see him now on the other sideline in his t-shirt and its not easy to accept the reality that such occasions are over as we had hoped that he would be with us for many more years to come.
Tim and I travelled to meetings all over the country, Galway, Cork, Waterford etc and a few times to City West and he would sense my agitation if I was unsure of our destination and try his best at navigation- once directing me timely onto the M7 flyover for City West. We travelled to windswept Whitehall when Cathal was on the Irish U-15 side, some 12 years ago and, having arrived too early for the game visited some hostelries in Dromcondra and stopped on the road home and Tim would insist that his burger was garnished with an egg, especially for those early hours menu.
As Children's Officer about 8 years ago, I requested documentation from our clubs as to their welfare compliance and Tim produced a meticulous and detailed masterpiece which I have retained and it could still be a template for any club in the world.
When Tim needed a lift to the Kennedy cup or elsewhere, I would call to his house and he would produce a County t-shirt for me which he would have acquired and prior to Christmas we drove back to his place and he had a County jacket put aside for me, one which will be cherished always. At the Kennedy cup he always found time to follow our league's progress avidly and would drop in to the houses to check if all was well.
It was always a pleasure in those bygone days when in Charleville to meet up over a drink for a chat and banter, he was great company and a book of club tickets would invariably be produced; it was ManU v Liverpool but, in keeping with real fans, a loss was never rubbed in - your choice of club respected.
I texted Tim last Tuesday 'will I send County news' and the reply was a solitary 'yes' and I got my final mail from Tim's hospital bed on Wednesday regarding times for Sunday's academy games- loyal and true to the end and he would love to have been with us at his second home, Moatville.
Sincere condolences to his mother Josephine, brothers and sisters, extended family, all his friend at Charleville FC, his colleagues in Dublin, his colleagues in SIPTU and Kerry and all in our league where his trojan work will always be remembered and his larger than life presence will be forever missed. Farewell my friend, you will continue to be with us in spirit. Rest in peace.