Former Brighton midfielder Dessie Hutchinson has admitted he wants to hurl for Waterford in 2020 after impressing on his return to the small ball game. The 22-year-old powered Ballygunner to a six in a row in Waterford recently with 1-3 in their county final defeat of De La Salle.
He also struck 0-4 in the semi-final win over Dungarvan — almost two years after he lined out for Chris Hughton’s Brighton in the League Cup against Bournemouth. Hutchinson also captained the club’s U23 team though a mixture of a loan move to St Mirren falling through just months later, allied to an injury, resulted in his release in May of 2018.
Hutchinson played for the Waterford footballers in this year’s Championship, registering 0-2 against both Clare and Westmeath, and would love to be involved with Liam Cahill’s hurlers next season.
“I’ll keep the head down with the club at the moment but the long-term goal is definitely to be playing with Waterford,” said Hutchinson.
“I think it’s any young lad’s dream, in GAA, to play for the county team and hopefully be successful. That’s definitely my aim. I played Gaelic football with them earlier in the year and that gave me some idea what it would be like to go in with the hurlers.”
Hutchinson can’t do much more to impress new boss Cahill than continue starring for Ballygunner who remain the dominant local force. He described winning his first county title earlier this month as “the best moment of my career” and contrasted the experience of winning in the amateur game with life in the paid ranks.
It’s very different, here you’re playing with someone who wants the exact same as you, who is as happy as you, whereas in England you’re constantly competing against the player beside you, hoping he gets injured, and that’s just the reality
“It was hard for me initially to go over to that, after being so involved with the GAA. I was used to the team environment, everyone together, then you go over there and people are kicking you, don’t want you anywhere near them. We were lucky there were a few Irish lads and we stuck together but I wouldn’t have wanted to have been an Irish lad on my own. It’s ruthless.”
Hutchinson reckons he “wasn’t far off” making it in the UK and could have “stayed around football for another few years, earning a decent wage”. But like ex-Dublin goalkeeper Shane Supple, who quit Ipswich Town to return to Ireland and the GAA, Hutchinson felt a stronger pull from home.
“I’m working with a warehouse company in Waterford, Store-All and hopefully I’ll get back into education sometime soon, that’s the plan,” he said.
“A loan move could have kick-started everything for me over there but it just didn’t happen. There are lots of ups and downs, I think only one in every 99 from the academy makes it. You look at those stats and think: ‘Jeez, do I have a chance?’ But it’s an opportunity you can’t turn down either.”