WEEKLY TRAINING, evenings sacrificed, holidays cancelled, fewer nights socialising, and multiple injuries are all aspects of the ugly side of the ameteur sport that is the GAA. William Dunne of Pundit Arena sat down with Killian Deeley of Dublin to discuss making a late charge to make the county team.
And when you don’t see improvements, or crucially your improvements go un-noticed, well there is no feeling as diminishing.
For the many players that play GAA for all of their young lives, they dream of representing their county at some point or another, and then there comes a time for most when they know for certain that this dream will not come true.
Killian Deeley is one of many that shared this desire and while there were many reasons working against his favour, he always clutched on the glimmer of hope that he would get his chance.
With back injuries in his teens, followed by a move to Australia that would see him not kick a ball for over 14 months, Deeley then returned to work his way up the ranks at his club Na Fianna before getting a call by his county for the first time, just as he was turning 21.
“When I got the call, now I definitely wouldn’t say that I was expecting it. I mean absolutely not. This is the last year that I could play under 21 so to be honest, I thought my opportunity had passed me by,” said Deeley.
Since arriving on the under 21 inter-county scene just four months ago, Deeley has started every game in Dublin’s Leinster winning campaign, where the final saw them edge out Kildare in extra-time at the beginning of this month.
When he reached the age to play minor, Deeley had still never represented his county and became riddled with back injuries. He found it hard to remain fit for more than two months at a time and then following his Leaving Cert in 2013, he moved to Australia.
“While I was in Australia I didn’t play any ball related sport. I just stuck to the gym but went at it pretty intensely and put on about 10 kilos.
“When I came home I got straight back into football again but only played at a junior level though, and played that from September up till December.”
The Na Fianna man then got called up to the intermediate team with whom he played for the majority of 2015.
“I had a very good few months from September onwards and found myself getting called up to our senior panel in December (of 2015), and this was huge for me because I have never played at this level before so I was delighted.”
Soon after linking up with the Na Fianna senior panel Deeley got the call to a trial for the county under 21 panel, where he recalls his nervousness making the step.
“I was shown up playing with all of these guys that have been playing county level for years and were well used to it and I wasn’t.
“I had never played (at that level) before so I just said I’d go and give it my all, had nothing to lose. I attended the first few sessions which would be the trial period and it went well for me.”
Deeley gives hope to the younger players that mightn’t have got the recognition they deserve.
“Up until December I had never played in any inter-county set up. I just stuck to my game, worked hard and eventually got noticed. The key to success is hard work.”
His progress has been brief but substantial but he doesn’t plan to stop here.
“Senior inter-county football is obviously the end goal… I always strive towards representing the senior Dubs. I suppose you could say I’ve taken a small step closer but there’s still a lot of work to be done” Deeley concluded.
William Dunne, Pundit Arena.