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'Teaching is probably the life to suit the GAA': Barron changing careers to facilitate his hurling

Barron says he might return to his first-choice career path once his playing days are over.

Updated at 08.15

2017 WAS THE finest year in Jamie Barron’s inter-county career to date.

Jamie Barron celebrates scoring a goal Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

A second successive All-Star, nomination for Hurler of the Year and his first ever All-Ireland final appearance were some of his major achievements as the Deise dynamo confirmed his status among the elite bracket of hurlers in the country.

Barron completed his Masters in food business at UCC in October, and believes the student lifestyle was a key factor in his sensational form last summer.

He now intends to put his first-choice career on the back burner for a few years and will instead pursue primary school teaching to complement his inter-county hurling career.

“I’m actually starting work next week in Radleys (Engineering) inside in Dungarvan,” Barron says, “but long term I think I’m going to go back teaching in September to see how that goes, the Hibernia course online. That would be my long term plan.

“I can do a bit of teaching for a few years and if I want to move away from it then when all the inter county hurling is over, I can. I’ve a lot of options then.

“At the end of the day I wouldn’t mind going teaching either. I am probably doing primary school teaching, and I get on well with kids so don’t think it would be a bad option for me anyway without GAA.”

GAA Healthy Club Evaluation Report Launch Barron was in Croke Park for the launch of the award-winning Healthy Club Project Source: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

Derek McGrath, a secondary school teacher himself, has said in the past he encourages his players to pursue teaching.

Given the increasing time constraints involved in competing at the top level, Barron believes it’s no surprise hurlers are choosing occupations that benefit them on the field.

“Teaching is probably the life to suit the GAA at the moment,” Barron continues.

“I don’t know is it good or a bad reflection on the GAA. That’s the way it is at the moment. I suppose players take their sport so seriously now that they want to build their working career around their GAA, and that’s the way it is.

“Even my parents would say it to me, ‘If you want to play GAA at the highest level, teaching would probably be the best option for you.’

“My grandmother was a teacher and she always said it to me. I suppose I didn’t listen at the start but now I’m kind of starting to realise that it probably is (the case).”

Is it still possible for players working in 9-5 jobs to get the most out of themselves on the field?

“I suppose it depends on where you are working.” he says. “If you are working in Dublin you are 9-5, and then going back to training at half 7 in Waterford, you’re going back into rush hour traffic there and it’s not really going to suit.

“I think if you get a job at home and you’re finished up at half 3 you have an hour or two to lie down or prepare meals or something like that, I think it’s a lot easier for GAA players.”

Jamie Barron Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

While Barron would embrace the lifestyle that comes with being a professional player, he doesn’t see pay-for-play ever coming into the GAA.

“Well, obviously it would be nice to be a professional GAA player, but at the end of the day it’s not the GAA ethos. The GAA is built on clubs and community spirit and all that. I think it’s always going to stay as an amateur sport. I think most players would like to be professional, but I can’t see that happening.”

Derek McGrath and Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh have both returned for another crack at All-Ireland glory this year, something the midfielder says is “massive” for the group.

“The trust that we have in Derek and he has in us is unbreakable and if he was to go it might have set us back a year or two. We’re delighted himself, Dan (Shanahan) and Eoin Murphy have decided to stay on, I think its a one year contract so we’ll be putting everything we can to try and get over the line.

“(Brick) is one of the main leaders of the team, he’s 34 now and he’s the one guy that when the going gets tough he’s always there fighting and winning ball and encouraging other lads.

“What he brings even to the dressing room is phenomenal. Even for the younger lads as well he is such a leader and someone you have looked up to for so long and he drives you on and to have him back for another year is great.”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Kevin O'Brien

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