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Maurice Shanahan: 'I dream about playing with Waterford again...I'll never give up on it'

The Lismore star was dropped from the Deise squad before the 2020 season.

Maurice Shanahan celebrates after scoring a goal against Clare in the 2018 Munster SHC.
Maurice Shanahan celebrates after scoring a goal against Clare in the 2018 Munster SHC.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Updated Apr 27th 2021, 8:02 PM

WHEN LIAM CAHILL informed Maurice Shanahan he was dropped from the Waterford hurling squad in November 2019, the Lismore attacker initially planned on announcing his retirement from inter-county duty.

Shanahan and long-serving defender Noel Connors were deemed surplus to requirements after Tipperary native Cahill took charge ahead of the 2020 campaign. 

But after sleeping on his plan to retire, Shanahan changed his mind. 

He recalls: “I said, ‘No I’m not going to retire.’ You never know. A new manager might come in next year and he might see you as part of his plans, and things might be different. You might go back and give it a year.

“I dream about playing with Waterford again. It will probably never happen to be honest, but I would like to play with Waterford again.”

After over a decade of service (he made his championship debut in 2009), watching his former team-mates reach last year’s All-Ireland final brought about mixed emotions. 

“It was definitely strange at the start. It’s probably strange still to be honest with you, when you see lads there going off training. You’d love to be going off with them still.

“There’s always a time that you either retire or you’re just told you’re not wanted anymore. It would have hurt me watching the matches last year, to be honest. But deep down I’m a Waterford man, and a proud Waterford man, and I wanted the lads to win.

“Myself and Noel, we gave 10 years at it. Deep down, we always wanted Waterford to win an All-Ireland. 110%.

“But it probably would have hurt both of us too if they did, let’s call a spade a spade. Because we gave so much, and the first year we’re gone is always the hardest year. It might be different this year going forward. 

“But no, it would have hurt me a small bit if the lads won it last year. But by God, that didn’t mean I didn’t want the lads to win, because I have some great friends on that Waterford team, the likes of Moran and Austin Gleeson, Pauric Mahony, Conor Prunty — all them.

“I texted them last year before the matches, wishing them all the best of luck. Deep down, hand on heart, I wanted Waterford to win. Would it have hurt me a small bit? Of course it would. But that’s just normality.”

maurice-shanahan Lismore’s Maurice Shanahan enjoyed a fine club season in 2020. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Spurred on for the club campaign, Shanahan hit 2-17 in Lismore’s championship opener against Fourmilewater. He scored 3-44 on their run to the last four of the Waterford SHC, eventually falling to kingpins Ballygunner. 

Despite the 31-year-old’s stunning form, the call never arrived from Cahill to rejoin the panel ahead of the 2020 season.

While he has now made peace with the fact his days in the Deise jersey might be over, he admits he would return if the invite came to rejoin the panel.

“If the call came, I would (go back),” he says. “I’d never turn my back on Waterford. I’m not getting any younger, that’s the only thing. I’m 31 now. People are saying the sport is getting younger every day.

“If you’re looking at it really, it probably is the end of the road for me to be honest. But I’ll never give up on it. I go training myself and when we go back with Lismore, I’ll put everything into that, I won’t be thinking about Waterford one bit to be honest with you.

“It’ll be all Lismore, that will be my main aim is trying to win a county title with my club. If I got a call again, and that’s a big if, you would have to sit back and think about it.

“For now all my effort and training is for my club Lismore and I can’t wait to go back because as young boy growing up all I wanted to do was hurl with Lismore.

“Then obviously we hurled with Waterford but if we could win one county title with Lismore it would be a dream come true.”

Perhaps that sense of perspective comes from becoming a father for the first time. His wife Katie gave birth to their daughter Rosie six weeks ago. 

“Talking to people who said they were there for their first child born, it’s incredible stuff. Jesus, being in that room when Rosie was born was a different feeling altogether.

“It was the best feeling I ever got in my life to be honest,” he smiles. “To hold my daughter in my arms straight away and thankfully everything is good with her. She’s flying at the moment. 

“If I didn’t talk out in 2014, who knows? I might never have witnessed that. But, it was the best day of my life so far, witnessing the birth of our daughter.”

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maurice-shanahan Shanahan has teamed up with Electric Ireland to invite the public to join them for a special ‘One Sunrise Together’ for Darkness Into Light on Saturday, 8 May. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The mention of the dark time he went through in 2014 is stark a reminder of why Shanahan is speaking as an ambassador for Pieta House’s Darkness Into Light campaign. 

A battle with depression led to an unsuccessful suicide attempt seven years ago.

“I suppose when I was suffering, I probably thought there’s no better days ahead for me. But personally, 2014 was the worst part of my life. Then in 2015, I went on to win an All-Star.

“That gave me a big lift because turning yourself around that fast, and then what happened six weeks ago with Rosie coming along was the best thing ever to be honest with you. 

“If you can speak out and talk to people, you will see things improving down the line and I wouldn’t change my life for anything at the moment.

“Back then, I didn’t want to talk about it,” he says. “The one bit of advice I would give to people is to talk to someone. There is a big relief when you do.

“You can see a small bit of light at the end of the tunnel when you start opening up.

“You hear every day about people unfortunately passing away from Covid but you don’t really hear about the people that are dying from suicide. 

“People are ashamed to be saying it, but what’s there to be ashamed of? I suffered. I know two or three other people that suffered. We’re as normal as anyone.

“Everyone has ups and downs in life, and it hits people differently. The one bit of advice I’d give is that you’re no different to the person who’s not suffering.”

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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