Lure of Boston ensures Galway must do without Silke’s services
Just four of All-Ireland champions Cuala’s panel available for duty with Dublin
Liam Silke: “It’s kind of my last chance to go away to America so I just want to take that opportunity.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
You’d imagine Liam Silke would be keen to play for Galway this summer given how the stars have aligned so neatly for him and his county.
It’s exactly 20 years since manager Kevin Walsh was part of a Galway side that jumped out of Mayo’s slipstream to claim the All-Ireland title. Mayo, like now, had lost the previous two All-Ireland finals and just to add to the sense of connection for Silke, his uncle, Ray, captained that Galway team in 1998.
His father, Brian, is a selector with the present Galway set-up under Walsh and as the inaugural AIB All-Ireland Club Footballer of the Year, the 23-year-old is viewed as a key player.
But Silke, instead, will indulge his wanderlust and spend the summer in Boston, despite all the indications that this could be a successful championship for the league finalists.
“I’ve gone back to college this year, I’m doing a postgrad in Medicine and this is the only summer where I have the full three months off,” explained Silke.
“It’s kind of my last chance to go away to America so I just want to take that opportunity and I’ve had a long enough five years with Corofin and Galway. I haven’t really had a break.
“With Corofin, we have won the county championship five years in a row and won three Connachts, so we’ve been going on into February and March regularly and for all those years I’ve been with the Galway panel, playing three years.
“There was Galway U-21s as well, so it’s constant on the go, all the time without a break for more than three or four weeks.”
All of which is entirely reasonable – though try explaining that to your dad when he’s the selector of a Galway side chasing a breakthrough.
“From a father’s point of view, he obviously thinks that it’s something I should do I if want to,” said Silke. “As a selector, he would prefer if I stayed in with the Galway panel. But look, he is concerned more about how I feel and my happiness as a father than a selector.”
Galway captain Damien Comer spoke earlier this week about his belief that the team can win the All-Ireland though, if it happens this year, Silke may be left cursing his poor timing.
“Their biggest goal is going to be to win the All-Ireland and I hope they can do that,” he said. “It wouldn’t be nice watching from afar and seeing them do so well. But I have my decision made, I am not going to have any regrets.”
An even greater number of the Cuala hurlers that won AIB All-Ireland club medals last month have knocked back call-ups to the Dublin hurling panel.
Dublin supporters had hoped that the good vibes from the Dalkey club’s back-to-back All-Ireland wins might somehow transfer to Pat Gilroy’s set-up this summer.
But just four players – Seán Moran, Jake Malone, Cian O’Callaghan and David Treacy – have accepted invitations to join up with Dublin ahead of their Leinster championship opener against Kilkenny on May 13th.
Con O’Callaghan and Mark Schutte are on the Dublin football panel while Darragh O’Connell and Colm Cronin are unavailable. Cuala captain Paul Schutte is a long-term injury absentee with a badly damaged hamstring.
“It’s very easy I think for the public to make assumptions on people coming back in with Dublin but outside of hurling, players still have their own lives,” said Moran, the AIB All-Ireland Club Hurler of the Year.
“For us, it’s been a very long two years, three years really, where it’s been hurling non-stop. For a lot of guys, a lot of them need a break, mentally even just to unwind and to have that hunger again.
“If you’re not ready to come back into a county set-up then the worst thing you could do is come back and not be motivated. You’re almost taking from the group. “I think Darragh and a few others just needed that break. Nobody will hold it against them. They’ve put a lot of their lives on hold and they want to pursue different avenues of their lives at the moment.
“It’s not possible to do both with hurling because the demands and the schedule are so high.”