Shane O’Donnell trying hard to return to old routine
Clare’s hero was back in Croke Park yesterday to collect his Hurler of the Month award for September
Clare hurler Shane O’Donnell with his Player-of-the-Month award for September. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Shane O’Donnell admits to having “no clue” what form the hurling league will take next year, and in that regard he’s probably not alone. But while Central Council has deferred until next month a decision on the 2014 format – now complicated even further by a third proposal – O’Donnell has been distracted by other matters, such as offers of fashion shoots, talk of boyband auditions, and controlling his nerves before going on The Late, Late Show.
Indeed O’Donnell was back in Croke Park yesterday to collect his Hurler of the Month award for September, the latest stop in the two-week whirlwind of celebratory appearances since bagging 3-3 in the first 20 minutes of Clare’s All-Ireland final replay win over Cork. He also admits he’s trying desperately to return to his regular routine, especially with a backlog of lab assignments and some fast-approaching exams at UCC, where the 19-year-old is studying for a BSc in genetics.
Dressed in a turquoise hoody, Clare tracksuit bottoms, and white canvas runners, his hair notably ruffled, O’Donnell may be unwittingly playing up the boyband credentials, and yet he smiles and throws his eyes up to heaven at all such references, modestly suggesting such talk is “blown out of proportion”.
What he has done, however, is to employ his mother as his part-time agent: now, all calls requesting celebratory or indeed celebrity appearances are diverted to Mary O’Donnell.
“Every day someone is ringing you, asking ‘do you want to do this or that’, and it’s just been hectic,” he says. “So my mother is acting as the stand-in agent at the moment, because she’d have no problem telling people I’d have no interest in doing this or that. When people ask me I’d always say yes. Although I’m finally learning to say no.”
Not that O’Donnell doesn’t appreciate his newfound success and fame: one of the requests he’s happily agreed to is a talk to primary school students about the importance of science in education. “Yeah, that sort of thing I’ve no problem doing. Because I’d love to be able to convince people to keep up science in secondary school, or to do more science.”
What Mary O’Donnell presumably agreed would do him no harm either was to appear on The Late, Late Show, although that provided a far greater bundle of nerves than being told, two hours before the All-Ireland final replay, that he was in the Clare starting team.
“It’s well documented how nervous I get before matches,” he says, “but I was so, so nervous before that. But I’ll definitely be glad when it calms down. It’s been very weird.”
The story of being told he would start the replay just two hours before throw-in is already part of Clare hurling legend, although O’Donnell suggests that’s been blown out of proportion a little, too.
“I was nervous a small bit alright, but I was never going to get sick. I was more excited than nervous at that stage because it was so close to the game. I was just excited to get on to the pitch more than anything else.
“If I had played brutal, and then it came out that I’d only found out two hours before the match, people would be like ‘Why did he (Davy Fitzgerald) do that?’ In hindsight it was brilliant, and it worked out. But it’s probably not feasible, most of the time not, to tell someone like that.”
He admits, too, that Fitzgerald has been ringing him every second day, ensuring he’s dealing with the situation alright, while quietly reminding him the hurling season won’t be long coming round again.
“You can have your few weeks of it, but you really have to remember why you’re in it.”