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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 10 December, 2018

Pig farming, club history in Cork, Waterford hurling brothers - the Shane Fives story

The Tourin man is a key member of the Waterford team preparing to face Cork in today’s All-Ireland semi-final.

SHANE FIVES REALISES what’s at stake in this afternoon’s All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final.

The prize is huge – a final clash with Galway on September 3.

Waterford have been here before, many times, but since last winning the All-Ireland senior crown in 1959, they’ve contested just the one final, a 2008 mauling at the hands of Kilkenny.

Fives was a member of that panel, fresh out of minor and brought along for the ride to September.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

A self-confessed late bloomer, Fives took a year out after that and missed another year following knee surgery in 2012.

Despite making a number of League appearances along the way, it was 2013 before he would make his senior championship bow, in a low-key qualifier against Offaly.

He’s been a regular face in the side since then, an exceptional corner back who’s now firmly embedded in the Déise fabric.

A 2010 Munster senior winner, Fives is 28 now, and acutely aware that the years are slipping by.

It’s great to get back to another All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park, he acknowledges, but there’s a salient message for all involved.

“You know yourself, people never remember the fellas that lose, they only remember the fellas that win.

“So we have to push on and get a win against Cork.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“But there’s no denying it, they’re favourites for a reason. They’ve beaten Tipperary, ourselves and Clare. It will be no easy task and they keep proving there’s a team there – a top class team.

We have it all to do to beat them but I think if we get ourselves right and get a performance, we’ll have a chance.”

Winning a Fitzgibbon Cup with Waterford IT in 2008 was a big step forward for Fives.

He reflects now that it put him in the ‘shop window’ – and he was called in by then manager for trials on the back of that.

“It was great for me,” he says. “That’s what gave me the breakthrough – called in after winning that for a trial.”

A dejected Shane Fives A dejected Shane Fives after last year's All-Ireland semi-final replay loss to Kilkenny. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

There was managerial upheaval in Waterford that summer, when Justin McCarthy left after a Munster championship defeat to Clare.

But McCarthy’s successor, Davy Fitzgerald, kept him involved.

After leaving WIT, where he spent three years on a sport and recreation course, Fives still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in terms of a professional career.

He had a few odd jobs here and there but went travelling with his partner to Thailand for a while.

When he got home, there was an interesting offer on the table from his father, John.

“My Dad starting a pig-farming business 28 years ago, from scratch,” Fives explains.

“There was farming in the family – my grandfather and granduncle were dairy farmers in the local area.”

Shane Fives and Pat Barry Shane Fives in action for Waterford IT against UCC in the 2008 Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

When he got back from Thailand, John had a question for his son.

“Right, what do you want to do?”

Shane thought about it and resolved that he’d give pig farming a try. That was five years ago – and he hasn’t looked back since.

“If you asked me six or seven years ago would I be pig farming, I’d have said no way,” he smiles.

The business is Harval farms, and Fives supplies mainly to Rosderra meats in Roscrea, county Tipperary.

Shane Fives Shane Fives pictured as a Waterford senior squad member in 2010. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Shane’s brother and Waterford team-mate Darragh, who’s 25 and three years his junior, helps out now and then but he’s a secondary school teacher.

Shane is happy to carry the can, even though the hours can be long.

“It’s fairly intense alright, but I enjoy it, I don’t mind,” he says.

We sell our pigs to Roscrea and they do the rest. They supply you with your sausages and rashers.

“I work every second weekend as well – but I have to work weekends around matches and stuff like that. It’s busy but I have three good lads working with me.

“It’s difficult, I’m not going to lie, trying to balance everything but I can manage.

“The way pigs are, I can manage my time better. It’s not like milking cows in the morning and the evening.”

Shane Fives Shane Fives earned his first senior call-up in 2008. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Fives has a certain degree of inside knowledge on today’s opponents Cork, as he hurled for two years with Carrigtwohill from 2013-2015.

He was working with a pig farmer there, Tom O’Brien, and has nothing but respect for the club who looked after him.

“I’d know the Cork boys fairly well, from playing against them,” he says.

The club was brilliant, I’d have great admiration for Carrigtwohill.

“In 2012, I needed to get cartilage in my knee looked after.

“The Waterford manager at the time, Michael Ryan, proposed that I take a year out. It was the wrong time of the year to be getting an injury so I thought ‘fair enough’.

“I came back in 2013, got myself fit and starting playing with Carrigtwohill, and playing well. Michael called me back in then.”

Liam Blanchfield with Darragh Fives Shane's brother Darragh is also a key member of the Waterford set-up. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

But Tourin is home and having Shane and Darragh on the Waterford senior team is a massive source of pride for the club and the boys’ parents.

Tourin is located in West Waterford, between Cappoquin and Lismore, and Fives explains: “It’s a very small place.

All there is in Tourin is a hurling field, no church, no shop, no pub. We’re a really rural club, only about 200 people in the parish, if even. It’s a family made-up club – three or four families make up the majority of the team.

“In 2011, we got to a county intermediate final, lost to Dunhill by a point after a replay.

“But we’re struggling for numbers now, being honest.

“There’s very little coming through and fellas are going away and looking for work.

“We’re finding it hard and the commitment levels are getting higher and higher – and it’s not getting any easier.”

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

But in the Waterford shirt, Fives reckons that he’s playing his best hurling now.

“I was a late bloomer,” he admits. “But I feel like I’m playing my best hurling these days, the last couple of years.

“And there’s a special bond in this Waterford team. Derek McGrath’s not lying when he says that. There are a few sets of brothers playing together and it’s a real, close-knit team.

“Everybody gets on and everybody’s striving to win at the same time, all pushing in the same direction.”

Fives references a Munster U21 final in 2009 as an example of how many of the current players have progressed.

He played in a defeat against Clare that night. Noel Connors, Philip Mahony, Steven Daniels, Tommy Ryan and Maurice Shanahan were there too, and all are current senior panellists.

Maurice Shanahan Waterford forward Maurice Shanahan. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

They’ve all faced and survived various challenges. Fives had that injury to contend with, while also getting to grips with his new business.

But the journey was worth it for nights like July 8 in Thurles, when Waterford beat Kilkenny in senior championship hurling for the first time in 58 years.

“It was a great night but, being honest, I think our supporters enjoyed it more,” Fives reflects.

“The fact that we knew we had to settle back down and play Wexford, we didn’t get too carried away. That showed our maturity as a team.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“Over the last couple of years, we might have got carried away with a win like that, but we were straight back down to work the week after.

“Wexford was a battle. They’re actually a very dominant team and after a great year. And we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task – especially with Davy involved.”

And so, here Waterford are again, at a semi-final hurdle that’s tripped them up so many times.

And Fives knows it’s going to take something special to slay a rising Cork tide, as the Rebels come to Croke Park as Munster champions.

“With their intensity, pace and quick forwards, they have the ammunition – but know we have that as well,” says Fives.

“We will be underdogs, there’s no denying that, but we’re looking forward to it.”

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