Waterford’s Barron tailors teaching career around intercounty passion
GAA News: Teaching makes sense for hurler of the year candidate and two-time All Star
Waterford’s Jamie Barron: “Obviously it would be nice to be a professional GAA player. But at the end of the day it’s not the GAA ethos.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Jamie Barron is not the first GAA player to tailor his career to satisfy his inter-county desires, and won’t be the last. The teaching business, he reckons, will probably suit him anyway.
The worry, says Barron, is how much longer the GAA can sustain that model – or indeed the teaching business. At age 24, and recently graduated with an MA in Food Science from UCC, the Waterford hurler still has desires to work in that area, only for now teaching is the only career that makes sense.
“I’m going to go back teaching, in September, to see how that goes,” says Barron, who is working locally in Dungarvan in the meantime. “I have the MA done in food business as well, and thinking if I can do a bit of teaching for a few years, and if I want to move away from it, then when all the inter-county hurling is over, I can, there are options there then.
“But I’d say it’s the same within most county panels. I think the teaching is probably the life to suit the GAA at the moment. I don’t know is it a good or a bad reflection on the GAA. That’s just the way it is.
“I suppose players take their sport so seriously now that they want to build their working career around their GAA. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t mind going teaching either. I am probably doing primary school teaching, and I get on well with kids, so don’t think it would be a bad option for me anyway without GAA.”
Barron was one of the three candidates for 2017 hurler of the year – along with team-mate Kevin Moran and winner Joe Canning of Galway. Now a two-time All Star, he certainly reckons his best years are ahead of him, partly motivated by that All-Ireland defeat to Galway in September. But to reach that full potential, working nine-to-five is not the smart option.
“I suppose it depends on where you are working. If you are working in Dublin, you are nine-to-five, and then going back to training at 7.30. In Waterford, you’re going back into rush hour traffic there and it’s not really going to suit.
“I think if you get a job at home and you’re finished up at 3.30, you have an hour or two to lie down or prepare meals or something like that. I’m living at home, so the mother will put the dinner on the table for me, so it’s not too bad. I think even my parents would say it to me: ‘If you want to play GAA at the highest level, teaching would probably be the best option for you.’
“Obviously it would be nice to be a professional GAA player. But at the end of the day it’s not the GAA ethos. The GAA is built on clubs and community spirit and all that. I think it’s always going to stay as an amateur sport. I think most players would like to be professional, but I can’t see that happening.”
Waterford manager Derek McGrath, now entering his fifth season, said something similar earlier last year. Indeed, inter-county management had made teaching in De La Salle Waterford so difficult that he ended up taking an extended paternity break, not just for his sake but for the sake of his students.
“I just felt the best scenario for me at the moment was to be concentrating on hurling,” said McGrath. He also suggested that, long-term, the demands of intercounty management can’t sustainable with full-time employment. “No, not a hope. I actually found I was becoming poor in the classroom. I just found I wasn’t with it fully. And for the lads’ sake, for the young fellas’ sake, I wasn’t teaching as well, perhaps.”
Barron also reckons having McGrath back on board for 2018 was pivotal.
“It was massive for us – the trust that we have in Derek, and he has in us, is unbreakable. And if he was to go it might have set us back a year or two. And I think it’s a one-year contract so we’ll be putting everything we can to try and get over the line.”
Barron was speaking at the extension of the GAA’s Healthy Club Project (HCP). So far, 58 clubs have delivered 350 initiatives covering physical activity, healthy eating, mental fitness, gambling, alcohol and drug education, training and personal development, anti-bullying, anti-smoking and community development. The evaluation by Waterford IT revealed that approximately 60-80 per cent of these initiatives were having a medium to high impact on members’ health.