Jamie Barron admits inter-county players’ career paths are dictated by their hurling aspirations. The in-form Waterford midfielder makes no secret of the fact hurlers are choosing occupations to complement what they hope to achieve in county colours.
“Everything from our point of view goes into it,” says the UCC student,now on a work placement with Dawn Meats in Grannagh, Co Waterford. “You nearly choose your job over what you want to do. There’s a lot of fellas teachers and I’d say it could be solely because of inter-county commitments or whatever, so that’s the way it’s gone.
“Brick (Michael Walsh) is the only one with a child on the team so he’s the only one that maybe has pressure at home at the moment, but that just shows that the age profile has gone down in years. Maybe it’s tougher for older players to keep going but it’s no problem to Brick anyway.
“When you look at Clare when they won it in 2013, they were made up of the whole U21 team that won the All-Ireland, so I suppose there is lots of teams out there that have younger age profiles than maybe we were used to in the early 2000s and that.”
There has been no indication yet this season that Waterford’s younger players benefited from an element of surprise in 2015. Barron admits the team had set out their stall from early on that they didn’t want last year to be a one-hit wonder. “I think straight away we came back in October, November and we had a meeting and I think the first thing that was laid out at that meeting was no second season syndrome. I think we set that down as the marker. I suppose Limerick the year before were after doing well in 2014 and the year after they had a lull so we said to ourselves we have to build on it, get back training early, training hard and no one getting complacent. I think so far you can say we’ve done that but there’s a lot more to go.”
Looking back on the 2015 Munster final, he can’t help but think they were beaten by the more seasoned team. “Maybe people were saying we were too defensive, we didn’t attack it enough but Tipp are a serious team, you can’t take that away. They’re All-Ireland contenders this year, up there with Kilkenny. They’ve had experience, they played in an All-Ireland the year before, they’ve done it all, they won in 2010. I suppose on the day maybe their experience got them over the line.”
Twelve months on, though and Barron and Waterford are determined to arrest a record of four consecutive Munster final defeats to Tipperary.
“Even in the league, we set that game as another game where we needed to go out, put in a performance and hopefully get a result, which we did, and I think even results like that in the league, which is gone as competitive as championship, them sort of things get the monkey off your back. That kind of gives us the belief we can compete with the likes of Tipp and Kilkenny.”
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