Shaw, along with fellow Kerry youngster Stefan Okunbar and two other Irish players, is part of a 40-strong group being put through their paces by academy head coach Luke Power at the IMG facility in Florida. The group, who go to Los Angeles next week, where they will continue training at a local college, are being watched by recruiters from 12 different AFL clubs.
Shaw’s presence in America sees him absent for St Brendan’s Corn Uí Mhuirí quarter-final against Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne this afternoon. The reigning Hogan Cup champions are also sweating on the fitness of midfielder Billy Courtney (back) and corner-back Cian Callaghan (knee), with manager Gary McGrath commenting that “our backs will be against the wall without these three players”.
Shaw bagged 1-4 in their Corn Uí Mhuirí opener against IS Killorglin back in October, kicked 0-3 in their subsequent outing against Macroom, and also raised two white flags when St Brendan’s squeezed past Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne in the Kerry colleges final, a game in which the aforementioned Courtney kicked four points from midfield.
“David was full-forward for us last year, was full-forward for the Kerry minors last year and was full-forward for us again this year. He is a huge loss. They are all big losses,” said McGrath.
“We’d hope to get something out of Cian and Billy, but it is not looking good at the moment. We played Bandon in our last group game on Wednesday, December 7. Billy had surgery on his back to remove an ingrown hair the day previous. Recovery has gone well, but we feel this game has come a week too soon. He has done nothing in the weeks since the surgery.
“We are probably stretched a little bit, as they are three huge losses. We just have to grit our teeth and go on.”
Despite sauntering through their group with an average winning margin of 18-points, the Killarney outfit had only a point to spare when beating today’s opponents in the O’Sullivan Cup final in October. The Dingle school kicked seven wides in the second period, with St Brendan’s holding on for a 1-16 to 2-12 victory. These two schools met at this same juncture last January, with St Brendan’s scoring a 1-14 to 0-4 win to end PCD’s five-in-a-row bid.
“We were very fortunate to win the O’Sullivan Cup final by a point. Now, we’ve lost three players since then. There are two or three new lads coming in and hopefully, they’ll be able to step up to the mark,” said McGrath. “The quarter-final is always the banana skin. You are coming into it having not played competitively for a number of weeks. On paper, we are two of the strongest teams in Kerry, but one of us will be gone by Wednesday evening.”