Paul Mannion on the perks and perils of a break from the Dubs
Forward unsure if Kilmacud Crokes clubmate Rory O’Carroll will ever return
Paul Mannion scores a goal against Mayo in the Allianz League. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Paul Mannion knows all about the perks and perils of walking away from the Dublin football team. It gave him the change of scene he wanted, but that doesn’t mean everyone can just walk back in either.
Mannion’s calling came with the chance to study in Beijing in 2015, which meant he missed that entire season with Dublin, when the team won their second All-Ireland under Jim Gavin. The following year his Kilmacud Crokes club mate Rory O’Carroll also walked away, to work in New Zealand, and although the three-time All-Ireland winner is still only 28, there’s no sign of him coming back.
“I don’t know, if I’m honest,” says Mannion. “I could see him coming back with the club at some stage, but genuinely, I don’t know what kind of training he’s been doing over there. So it will be interesting to see what shape he would come back in – if he did come back. It would be great to see him back with the club.
“He’d be keeping an eye out and wishing us the best of luck or congratulations afterwards. But he’s his own man. He’s enjoying himself in New Zealand there with his girlfriend, so he’s happy there.”
Mannion has no regrets about his year in Beijing, even if he’s gone down a different career path, in management consultant, nothing to do with China or Beijing.
“The immediate year I came back the first year wasn’t the best, 2016 I was probably a bit rusty at times throughout that year. I suppose in the grand scheme of things, thinking long-term, I think it definitely helped me – personal development as much as anything else, having that experience from being abroad, studying a different language, meeting different people. In that sense it helped a lot.
“I’m not sure what way it is in other counties, but for me when I said it to Jim (Gavin) he was open to it, I said it was something I wanted to do, he was happy for me to go. I’m not so sure he’d be so happy if everybody said ‘I want to take a year off.’ I knew before I went that I’d be starting at ground zero so to speak and that I’d have to earn my place back or I might never get back.
“It was something I’d decided on doing before I ever played with Dublin, so I wanted to stick with it.”