'I've grown up in Dublin but there's more to life than playing for the Dubs' 2 months ago

'I've grown up in Dublin but there's more to life than playing for the Dubs'

Rory O'Carroll's return to Dublin GAA this week has been a subtle reminder to those in the GAA that the rich can always get richer.

O'Carroll left the Dublin setup in 2016 after winning two All Star awards and three All-Ireland medals with Jim Gavin's juggernaut and he left Ireland for New Zealand with an open mind and a confidence that he was making the right choice.

“Who knows? It could be six months or six years. I’ll just have to go and see how I enjoy it and take it from there. I’m not going to put an end-date on it when I don’t know what it’s going to be like.

“I’m a social worker so I’ve registered with certain agencies but I won’t know until I see what it’s like. It will probably be in that field but I’m willing to be flexible.”

There was a sense of now or never with O'Carroll. Stay with Dublin and continue to stack up All-Ireland medals like coins in a petty cash jar or head on an adventure with his girlfriend to the land of the long white cloud.

It's a decision that Dublin players on both the men's and women's teams are faced with and a choice that was not taken lightly by Laura McGinley and Molly Lamb who will be heading to San Diego and Vancouver respectively this summer.

They will play in the O'Connor Cup this week as the respective captains of DCU and UCD, and while they are loving their time with both colleges, they also wanted to step away from the Dublin panel this year, a decision that is much easier said than done.

"The year I did my Erasmus I actually played with Dublin," Lamb told SportsJOE.

"We got to the final that year so I didn't go until October. I didn't do exams and I got to come home in April and I was playing in bits and bobs and I'm not playing this year.

"Just between my masters [education], trying to work and going away this summer it wasn't really an option for me this summer but it is tough seeing the girls play.

"I've grown up playing with Dublin and the girls are my good friends. I've been away with them but I mean there's more to life than football so you're just trying to balance it all."

McGinley echoes similar sentiments as she prepares to head off to the west coast of the United States. The 21-year-old was attracted to DCU because of the college's thriving GAA program and even though she will be watching the championship from afar this summer she still wants to try and continue playing football over in San Diego.

"I'm not playing this year out, I'm taking a year, which was difficult," said McGinley.

"I watched the girls play here in Croke Park against Mayo and it was really sad. I knew I always wanted to go away because in college there's a window of opportunity to go away and I knew I did want to take a year out but I don't think I was ready to take the year out.

"I think the idea of going away is good but when you're so committed to football you never really get the chance to go on a long term holiday and then it's like when the chance comes you really want to go, but then when the chance comes I was kind of like I don't want to.

"I know when June comes and I get to go away I know it will be worth it but I do hope to come back if Mick [Bohan] takes me back next year."

Talking to McGinley and Lamb you can notice an ever so slight change in them when they talk about missing out with Dublin this year. It's clear talking to both players that this is a part of their life where they've enjoyed great success, where they have made great friends and a platform in which they have pushed themselves to make it at the highest level of their sport.

Dublin Camogie defender Laura Twomey can relate to the urge to travel having played with the county's senior Camogie team since she was a 16-year-old but to her Camogie and playing for Dublin has become an addiction that still needs to be fed despite playing for over a decade in sky blue.

"It can be a question that some people can answer too lightly," said Twomey

"For me it's been the majority of my life the last couple of years and I just absolutely love the sport. Putting on that jersey on a gameday on a summer's day for a championship match there's just no other feeling like it.

"You're playing with friends that you have made over the last couple of years and you're playing for your county. It's just an absolute privilege.

"In terms of going away I wouldn't begrudge people. You have to live your life. I think for a lot of players representing Dublin and trying to be at peak, physical and mental performance, it's an addiction really trying to get your place back on the team.

"You start overcoming challenges and injury in the first couple of years and it makes it all that better and it means so much more because you realise that the years go by pretty quickly.

"It's been an incredible journey for me and just playing for my county and with my sisters, there's a family element there, and I just love the game and the county. There's nothing like it."

The LGFA Gourmet Food Parlour O'Connor Cup final takes place this Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9. The 2019 competition will be held at Technological University Dublin