ST PATRICK’S DAY will bring an All-Ireland club hurling final for Shane McNaughton, a chance to finally land a coveted national medal.
Cushendall smashed through their semi-final barrier last month to reach the decider for the first time.
But when the dust settles after that game, McNaughton will be bound for New York a fortnight later to pursue an acting career that he parked when committing to the Antrim senior hurling cause in recent years.
The 28 year-old will be featuring in a play in New York and he is also set to play a small role in the new series of the crime drama The Fall which will air next autumn.
“You don’t have much time with county hurling as I say – it’s all or nothing,” remarks McNaughton.
“So, after I got my operation about two years ago I got back into it because I had about a year to myself, so I started just auditioning again and doing a few plays in Belfast.
“I’m been doing plays in Belfast in stuff and I’ve got a small part in the Fall as a doctor. I can’t really say a lot about it. It’s a very small part.
“I’m going to New York soon after this. I am doing a play over there. It’s about the Easter Rising.
“It’s a development between the Lyric Theatre and they’re still writing about it. There’s nine of them. They don’t actually know which one.
“They’re small ones and they’ll go and perform them for the artistic director and then he’ll decide which play is put on.”
Juggling acting commitments with Cushendall’s club hurling campaign has been tricky for McNaughton.
“There before Christmas it was a nightmare, because obviously I couldn’t foresee us winning the Ulster championship and I’d already accepted a part in a play.
“We were training and rehearsing, I didn’t actually realise the rehearsals took up so much of your time.
“You were actually juggling that for a few months. It’s just not possible.”
McNaughton has no qualms in admitting he gets more nervous before going on stage than running on to a pitch.
And despite the potential glamour of acting, an All-Ireland final appearance with his clubmates is the experience he is relishing most as they get set to face Limerick’s Na Piarsaigh.
“I was saying to my brother the other day in passing, ‘no matter what you do in your life, it doesn’t matter if you went on and did something great in some other field, experiencing something like this, playing in an All-Ireland final.
“You get to share it with the people you have grown up playing with and your best friends and family. Nothing will ever top that.”