'I was big into the Gaelic and hurling' - Ireland's Dara O'Shea reveals admiration for Dublin GAA star

The defender looked up to fellow St Judes player Kevin McManamon.

Dara O'Shea is expected to be involved in Ireland's game with Wales today.
Dara O'Shea is expected to be involved in Ireland's game with Wales today.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

DARA O’SHEA SAYS simply appreciating his good fortune has helped him come a long way in football.

The 21-year-old Dubliner has enjoyed at brilliant year at club and international level, making his Premier League debut at West Brom and winning two caps for the Irish senior side.

The defender is one of a small minority of young players that travel over to England and actually make the early breakthrough at Premier League level and asked about his success, the youngster said: “I suppose ever since I signed for West Brom and made the move across the water, it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

“There were a lot of young lads and girls that would love to be where I was. I knew if I was given an opportunity I would have to take it. I understand how lucky I was to be given an opportunity so I knew that with my background, if I keep working hard, I keep improving, I could make a career for myself.”

Yet fate could easily have taken him in a different direction. O’Shea played both Gaelic football and hurling as a kid, lining out with St Jude’s and becoming friendly with Dublin GAA star Kevin McManamon.

Growing up, with Kevin being a St Jude’s man, he was always someone I admired. I was big into the Gaelic and hurling when I was younger and he was playing for Dublin and the one to look up to in that aspect. Obviously, I’d see him around the community and living so close to each other as well was great for me. As I grew up, I had a few interactions with him. He is a really good athlete in his field and a really good person as well.”

And when it was put to O’Shea that he could easily be lining out alongside McManamon for Dublin had things gone slightly differently, he replied: “Definitely. I always keep an eye on the Dubs and obviously St Jude’s as well. It was a big part of my childhood, the Gaelic and hurling, going from game to game at the weekend, week in, week out. It was something I was heavily involved with when younger.” 

Of course, the talented centre-back was also an avid soccer fan when he was younger, attending games at the old Lansdowne Road from the around the age of five onwards.

“I can’t remember the first one I went to, but it was always the excitement of going to watch Ireland, it didn’t matter who they were playing, it was the excitement of putting my kit on and getting on the bus with my Dad to go and watch the games. Just being in awe of the lads playing, standing there singing the national anthem as a kid and just everything about the whole day out.”

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O’Shea was even attending games as a supporter as recently as Euro 2016, and he has fond memories of that event.

“The last Euros, I went over with my Dad and that was amazing as well just to follow the team around France and watch them and celebrate as an Irish person. It was a great time for the country, it was a really exciting time and I was really grateful to be out there cheering the lads. 

I was at the Italy game. When Robbie scored the goal, we were up in the heavens in the stand and everyone just started falling down the steps celebrating, I won’t forget that one.”

And how does O’Shea feel now that many of the players he was cheering on not so long ago have become his team-mates?

“It’s a bit surreal at first when you come in and see these players you’ve been watching for so long. They say ‘hello’ to you and your name, and you’re a bit taken aback by it. It’s been great to learn off them, especially the players who’ve played a lot for Ireland that I grew up watching.”

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Paul Fennessy

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