Southampton striker Shane Long is the latest Premier League star to consider a return to the GAA after Everton right-back Seamus Coleman made it known over the weekend that he wishes to return to his local side St. Catherine’s once his footballing career is over.
The Ireland forward is currently in Abbotstown ahead of Ireland’s upcoming friendly with Switzerland on Friday evening, but before he begins preparations for Ireland’s upcoming friendlies, the Tipperary native was on hand to pick up the FAI’s Goal of the Year award (for that strike against Germany below) at the RTÉ studios in Donnybrook on Sunday evening.
The Tipperary native is enjoying some of the best form of his career and has asserted himself as Ireland’s number one striker going forward, but it wasn’t too long ago when it looked like he might have been lighting up Croke Park with the hurl as opposed to the Aviva Stadium with the ball.
The 29-year-old has bounced around a number of different clubs during his eleven-year professional career, but before he started scoring goals professionally, he was scoring points at an amateur level with Gortnahoe-Glengoole GAA and Tipperary Minors in Hurling.
Long remains the only Irish athlete to have ever played both international football and hurling at Croke Park, and while he would not definitively rule out a return to hurling when he’s retired from football, he did acknowledge that his legs might not be up to the task when he gets to that stage.
“Yeah I think the legs might be gone at that stage,” Long told reporters after the FAI Awards.
Long goes on to explain that he comes back every summer to keep fit with his local GAA club, but also to feed his hurling addiction.
“When I come back in the summers I train with my local team [Gortnahoe-Glengoole] in the hurling just to keep fit and to feed the craze as well, I love the sport you know.
“I try and keep in touch and watch as much of the Tipp games as I can over in England so that would be an ideal scenario to tog out for Tipp one day.
“But yeah I think if my legs aren’t good enough for football, I don’t think I’d be able to make it in the hurling because it is an unreal standard they play in Tipp.”
While his shot at pulling on the famous blue and yellow at inter-county level may be over, Long’s services could still be used at Gortnahoe-Glengoole who have been struggling with player loss in recent years due to emigration.
It seems unlikely at this stage of his career that Long would even consider swapping football for hurling but in the future it may not be too far-fetched an idea that he could tog out for the club he trains with every summer.
Jack O’Toole, Pundit Arena