It’s exactly 20 years ago that Liam Silke’s uncle, Ray, captained Galway to the All-Ireland football title.

Liam’s father, Brian, is part of the current management team and with Mayo losing the last two All-Ireland finals, just like they did before Galway’s breakthrough in 1998, the stars may be aligning overhead.

Yet instead of resuming his place in the Galway defence and pitching for history this summer as expected, Silke, an AIB All-Ireland club winner with Corofin last month, will be in Boston instead.

There’s a similar situation at play in Dublin where Cuala, the back-to-back AIB All-Ireland club hurling champions, will contribute just four players to Pat Gilroy’s county team.

Con O’Callaghan (football), Mark Schutte (football), Colm Cronin (unavailable) and Kerry man Darragh O’Connell (unavailable), among Cuala’s best players when they won back to back titles, won’t be involved.

All of them have their reasons, just as Carlow football talisman Brendan Murphy does for jetting to the US.

In Silke’s case, the 23-year-old has gone back to college to study medicine and reckons he won’t have another free summer.

“This is the only summer where I will have the full three months off,” said Silke, the AIB club Footballer of the Year. “It’s my last chance to go away to America so I just want to take that opportunity and I’ve had a long enough five years with Corofin and Galway. I haven’t really had a break.

“With Corofin, we won the Championship five years in a row and won three Connacht titles so we’ve been going into February and March regularly. For all those years, I’ve been with the Galway panel, playing three years.

“There was Galway U21s too, it’s constant go, all the time, without a break for more than three or four weeks.”

All of which is entirely reasonable though try explaining that to your Dad when he’s the selector of a Galway side chasing a breakthrough.

“From a father’s point of view, he obviously thinks it’s something I should do I if want to,” said Silke. “As a selector, he would prefer if I stayed in with the Galway panel. But look, he is concerned more about how I feel and my happiness as a father than a selector.”

The situation at Cuala is more complicated. Dual talent Con O’Callaghan, realistically, was never going to hurl for Dublin this summer though Mark Schutte has gambled by rejoining Jim Gavin’s football panel where he is a long shot to win a starting spot having previously been a key hurling forward with Dublin. Cronin and Abbeydorney’s O’Connell appear to have knocked back invitations for personal reasons.

It leaves AIB club Hurler of the Year Sean Moran, Jake Malone, Cian O’Callaghan, and David Treacy as the only players joining Pat Gilroy’s setup.

“It’s very easy I think for the public to make assumptions on people coming back in with Dublin but outside of hurling, players still have their own lives,” said Moran. “For us, it’s been a very long two years, three years really, where it’s been hurling non-stop.

“For a lot of guys, a lot of them need a break, mentally even just to unwind and to have that hunger again.

If you’re not ready to come back into a county set-up then the worst thing you could do is come back and not be motivated. You’re almost taking from the group.

“I think Darragh and a few others just needed that break. Nobody will hold it against them. They’ve put a lot of their lives on hold and they want to pursue different avenues of their lives at the moment.

“It’s not possible to do both with hurling because the demands and the schedule are so high.”


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