We all know by now that Shane Long used to play hurling.
His exploits in the GAA’s small-ball code have been well documented since his meteoric rise from Cork City teenager to Premier League star. The Gortnahoe-Glengoole man played two years county minor with Tipperary before concentrating on his burgeoning soccer career.
Tipperary hurling’s loss was Irish football’s gain as the current Southampton man has gone on to make over 80 appearances for the national side and just last season broke the record for the quickest Premier League goal of all time.
The Irish international appeared on Soccer AM before Christmas and spoke with Peter ‘Tubes’ Dale for the segment called ‘Firsts’.
When asked about his first memory, Long begins to talk about USA ’94 and Ray Houghton’s goal against Italy. However, the conversation quickly turned to hurling and how it was Long’s first sport, before soccer (as he describes it).
“Where I am (from) in Tipperary, that’s a massive hurling stronghold. I was probably born with a hurley, that was my number one sport.
“I still watch it now, still miss it now. Still have the hurley’s at home and get them out.”
“But I remember my minor team, which is under-18, were probably favourites to win the All-Ireland and they were playing in the first round and my manager at Cork City at the time said: ‘Look if they don’t go through, you have to give up hurling and concentrate on soccer.
“And I was thinking: ‘Yeah, no problem, they’re definitely going to win so I can play my hurling as well and they lost that game and I kept my promise and focused on the soccer and yeah… it was a good decision.”
Of course, it’s been widely reported that Tipperary qualified for the All-Ireland semi-final in both seasons that Long represented the Premier County, so he may be slightly off by saying they lost in the first round.
Either way, it’s a great story.
You can watch the full ‘Soccer AM: Firsts‘ segment with Shane Long below.