GAA marketing dream Lee Chin is ready to give soccer the boot
Under-21 star says Wexford must have more belief if county is to go all the way
Wexford captain Lee Chin at Windmill Lane to promote the two under-21 semi-final hurling games – Galway v Clare and Wexford v Antrim – in Semple Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Up close, the first thing you notice about Lee Chin is the cut of him. A well made hurler, a powerful looking footballer, a massive soccer player. Something’s surely got to give.
Up in Dublin to promote Saturday evening’s Bord Gáis under-21 All-Ireland hurling semi-finals in Thurles, Chin conceded as much yesterday.
He will eventually have to whittle his focus down to one sport and one team. Soccer will definitely be shelved. It already robbed him of January this year after damaging ankle ligaments playing for Wexford Bohemians.
There is a strong temptation to lump all his chips on hurling. Especially after last month’s dramatic Leinster final victory over Kilkenny.
That was his first real taste of success, and an elite, young sportsman like Chin cares about achieving more than anything else.
You saw it in his performance that night, on a dodgy knee and the euphoria –and hilarity – of his podium speech.
“I haven’t made any decision on it yet. I haven’t dwelled on it too much because I was still involved with the under-21s,” said Chin.
“I’ll take my break at the end of the season and I’ll consider it then . . . I’m not sure if I’ll keep going with the dual. It was a great experience but it was also very tough.
‘Hard to commit’
“The way the games are gone at the moment you’d find it very hard to commit yourself to both teams.
“It makes it very hard on yourself, not only you, but your managers as well.
“They have to be able to consider you for a starting position, that’s the reason you’re there. You want to be playing and if you’re only there 50 per cent of the time it puts them under a bit of pressure too.”
When he says a “break” really he means from the Gaelic games. “I’ll go back and play soccer for a while after this.
“In a way it is a break because you get away from the whole GAA scene and you can express yourself in a different way, play a different sport and it gets you hungry again coming into the new season.”
In 2011 he dabbled in semi-professionalism. “Yeah, I was with Waterford United for six months. I didn’t really enjoy it. It was a good experience but I didn’t like the whole . . . I just missed the GAA too much. So I switched back. It wasn’t the set-up, which was great, just the whole atmosphere of soccer, I didn’t really adapt to it.”
That’s a huge result for the association. Chin is a marketing dream.
“GAA is just what I was born to do I suppose.”
That and cutting hair. He is a barber back home in Wexford town. Literally at home.
“I had a job back in Wexford and I had to let it go really because a barber needs to do a lot of weekend work and I hadn’t got the time so I set up from home,” said Chin.
“It’s not much. At the moment I use it as a hobby so in terms of work I’m not really employed.
“In terms of time and commitment it is a big ask to have a full-time job and do the dual thing as well.”
Back in the present tense, he is focused on hurling Antrim into obilvion. If it all goes to form, Chin will stare down Clare in an All-Ireland final on September 14th.
Belief looks like Wexford’s main hindrance. “I’ll be honest, I think it still is a problem. When we played Dublin we had a lot of belief I suppose but when it came down to the wire we were a couple of points ahead and we kind of let it slip,” he said.
“I suppose that was a lack of confidence and belief there. With Clare, I don’t think we had 100 per cent belief going into that game.
“I just hope a lot of people don’t think ‘Sure look we have won Leinster, that’s good enough’. I really hope we can drive it on and compete in this All-Ireland.
“Pressure is one thing, but we know ourselves that we have to come up with something for our own future, let alone the future of Wexford.
“If this is the lifestyle we want and be competing for All-Irelands in the future, this is our way of putting that mark down now.”