'Cha' nominated for Kilkenny captaincy

Ballyhale Shamrocks, the reigning Kilkenny county champions, have nominated James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick to be captain of the Cats' senior hurlers in 2008.

Fitzpatrick, who is currently nursing a fractured metatarsal, is understood to be delighted and eager to follow in the footsteps of his club-mate Henry Shefflin who captained Kilkenny to All-Ireland glory last September.

Indeed, Shefflin was the sixth Ballyhale clubman to lift the Liam McCarthy Cup. No Kilkenny side captained by a Ballyhale player has ever lost an All-Ireland senior final.

Knockmoylan native Fitzpatrick has previous All-Ireland experience as a captain - he led both St Kieran's College and the Kilkenny Under-21s to national success in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

"It's hard to express how much of an honour this is and I'm very lucky to have it. It's a good time to a Ballyhale hurler and I know it's the club and all the lads on the panel that have given me this opportunity," Fitzpatrick told the Kilkenny Voice.

"Not having been able to play because of injury in the county final last year, I'm all the more grateful for what my team-mates achieved. I can only hope to go out and do justice to their efforts when wearing the county jersey."

Kilkenny got their season off to an inauspicious start last Sunday when losing to Antrim by a point in their Walsh Cup opener, but Fitzpatrick is confident that, with a lot of hard work, 2008 can be another year to remember for the Cats.

"2008 is a particularly special year since we have a chance again at an All-Ireland three in-a-row. I think it's 95 years or so, someone said, since the three in-a-row was last achieved (by Kilkenny) so there could be all sorts of rewards if we keep our heads and focus," he added.

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