Back-to-back All-Star Jamie Barron has admitted a large part of his reason for pursuing a teaching job is to aid his inter-county hurling career.
The Waterford midfielder and 2017 Hurler of the Year nominee stressed that he likes the idea of teaching and gets on well with kids but, acknowledged it’s mostly down to helping his hurling.
“I have a masters done in food business as well, probably thinking if I can do a bit of teaching for a few years and if I want to move away from it, then, when all the inter-county hurling is over, I can. I’ve a lot of options there then,” said Barron.
Waterford manager Derek McGrath is a teacher and has taken parental leave in the run up to the last two championships, partly to help him focus on preparing the team.
McGrath stated last year that teaching is “one of the most suitable means for managing” and he revealed that many of his players are either training to be, or currently are, teachers.
McGrath said in March: “I’m looking at our lads; Patrick Curran, primary school teacher; Philip Mahony’s a teacher, Darragh Fives is a teacher, Tadhg de Burca is doing the H-Dip in UCD.
"DJ Foran is doing the H-Dip, Gavin O’Brien is doing the H-Dip. Most of the fellas that are doing business degrees will end up doing the H-Dip as well, that’s the feeling I get from them.”
Both McGrath and Waterford captain Kevin Moran, Barron’s midfield partner, are teachers at De La Salle College in Waterford.
“I’d say it’s the same within most county panels,” said Barron. “I think the teaching is probably the life to suit the GAA at the moment. I don’t know is that a good or a bad reflection on the GAA.
“I suppose players take their sport so seriously now that they want to build their working career around their GAA and that’s the way it is.
“I wouldn’t mind going teaching, either. I am probably looking at doing primary school teaching, and I get on well with kids, so I don’t think it would be a bad option for me, anyway, regardless of GAA.”
Fears are growing within the GAA about the number of inter-county players choosing an occupation merely to suit their sporting lives.
“Even my parents would say it to me: ‘If you want to play GAA at the highest level, teaching would probably be the best option for you,’” said Barron.
“My grandmother was a teacher and she always said it to me. I didn’t listen at the start, but now I’m kind of starting to realise that it probably is the case.”
Barron agreed that regular nine-to-five workers, or those who have to work at weekends, are finding county commitments more and more difficult.
“If you are working in Dublin and you are nine-to-five, then you’re going back to training at half seven in Waterford, you’re going back into rush-hour traffic and it’s not really going to suit,” said the Fourmilewater man.
“I think if you get a job at home and you’re finished up at half three, you have an hour or two to lie down or prepare meals or something like that.”
Boss McGrath extended his Waterford reign by a single year back in November and the expectation is that he may call it quits after this year’s championship.
“He’s only after getting a one-year contract, so it’s looking like he will step away and he has a young family, which is hard to deal with, too,” said Barron.
“He’s not that old, he’s only 40 or something, but I think family has to come before sport.”
Asked if that amounted to an All-Ireland win or bust for Waterford in 2018, Barron shrugged.
“Well, we want to deliver this year, but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all, I think, we are going to give it everything we have and the respect we have for Derek will give us that extra incentive to try to pay back what he has done for us over the last four years, so, we’re going to do everything for Derek and ourselves to try to get up them Hogan steps.”
The GAA has begun the next stage of its award-winning Healthy Club project and is calling on clubs to get involved and to lead Ireland towards a healthier future.
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