Shane Dowling: I've lost friends and relationships because of hurling

Limerick star Shane Dowling has opened up about how he's lost friends and relationships because of his dedication to hurling.

Dowling, who is preparing for Limerick's clash with Kilkenny on Sunday, says he reacts badly to losses, even going two days before being able to get out of bed after poor performances.

"Have I lost friends or have I lost relationships because of hurling? I have," said Dowling, who's part of Littlewoods Ireland's Style Of Play series with The Sports Chronicle.

"If I play a match and I don't play well, you don't want to meet me after the game.

"There's been some games down through the years where I haven't been able to get out of bed for two days.

"If I saw anyone else carry on like that I’d give them a slap and tell them not to be so stupid, but I just can’t switch that off.

"The way I act at times like that isn't right but it's just the way I am."

One setback which Dowling has had to come to terms with is being left out of Limerick teams.

While he came to admire former manager John Allen, he was devastated by Allen's decision to drop him in 2013.

"I took that very hard at the time.

"Growing up I was never a sub on any team I had ever played for so, at the time, John Allen was the demon, the big bad wolf.

"We played Tipperary in the first round in Munster. I wasn't in the starting 15 and I remember driving home and pulling in around the back of the petrol station near the ground and breaking down for over an hour in my car.

"I genuinely thought my inter-county career was over. I was devastated."

He recovered to play a memorable role off the bench in the 2013 Munster final but being benched is something he's had to deal with again this year, following on from Na Piarsaigh's run to the All-Ireland final.

With his father involved in the club since its foundation 50 years ago, the loss to Cuala in March hit him hard.

"I still can't really talk too much about losing this year's final to Cuala. That will sit with me forever.

"It was the saddest day of my sporting life. It hit me hard and still does. We could have - and should have - won the first day.

"It was sickening because the club means so much to me. It just killed me – that’s all I can say about it still."

A health scare where his mother was struck down by a freak bout of pancreatitis last year helps the Raheen-based pharmacy manager keep his sport in perspective.

"That scared me. I remember Dad ringing me in work. I got straight into the car and drove up.

"We didn’t know whether she was going to make it.

"I’ve a niece that’s two this year, very attached to her Nana. It hit me: what if she’s not going to be able to spend time with her grandchild?

"I'd just bought my first house. There was a chance Mam would never even see me in it.

"Thankfully she made a full recovery, but it was a tough week. I had a few sleepless nights travelling up and down the road.

"Right now, hurling defines me, but only when everything else is right. If you don’t have a good career, good friends and the support of your family, hurling is irrelevant: Happy player off the pitch, better player on the pitch."


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