An amateur living the life of a professional

Eddie Brennan has no regrets.

Eight All-Ireland medals and his name secured in Kilkenny hurling folklore, softened the blow when he hung up the black and amber jersey for the last time. And now with the GAA world agog at Lar Corbett’s decision to step aside from the Tipperary panel, Brennan is perfectly placed to offer an insight into the changed landscape of top flight hurling.

“It was a big decision,” he agrees, on his retirement. “But the way I look at it, it was never about how many medals I won. If that was your motivation it might have been a temptation, but not for me.

“A lot of people think it would be very easy to stay on but they don’t know the commitment required at inter-county hurling nowadays, and I’ve seen a massive change between 2000 and 2012.

“I’m not giving out about it, just stating facts, but it comes to the stage where you have to make a choice. You need to give it 100%, if you don’t you’ll be exposed very quickly; I felt I couldn’t do that anymore.”

As with John Mullane in Waterford changes in his personal circumstances have seen Eddie under more and more pressure time-wise.

Unlike Mullane, however, Eddie saw himself with no choice but to retire.

“I have a young son, Harry who is only five months old. It’s a big change in my life and a great change in my life, but you have to be fully committed to this too. The women in our lives never get enough credit for all the sacrifices they make – Olivia and myself have never had a summer holiday together. As an inter-county hurler you’re living a professional lifestyle but you’re an amateur. You’re working 40+ hours a week, training around the same, and that just narrows your time down.

“You have very little left over for your family life so everything becomes very crowded. I looked at my own circumstances. Olivia is going back to work around May, which is when the hurling season would be really picking up. I work odd hours, where we going to be able to find a suitable babysitter? I suppose in an ideal world, if I was working nine to five, if we were living in Kilkenny with all the family support nearby, you probably would manage. But that isn’t the case.

“Look, it was never about the medals for me, that never stimulated me; as long as I was enjoying it I was going to keep going at it but last year I found (it tough). You could have a long weekend but you’d find yourself off in Carton House at one o’clock on Friday and there until three o’clock on Sunday. I just felt I’ve enough given time to this.”

Decision made then, Eddie is looking forward to the future.

“I don’t miss the training, I don’t miss having to watch the clock every evening, I don’t miss having to watch the clock when I needed something to eat, I don’t miss all the driving, but I do miss the craic and I’m sure that for the first championship match this year, heading up to Croke Park, it’s going to hit home.

“For a couple of years I was taking it one year at a time but last year I said I was going to give it 100% no matter what happened.

“We won the All-Ireland, everything fell into place for me, I made the final – all that was a bonus, a lovely bonus.

“For now, I have no regrets.”



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