On Monday, Jamie Barron takes a major step in a career move he first disclosed early last year that he would be taking. Just months after finishing a Masters in Food Business at UCC, the Waterford hurler said that he would be diverting from that path to take up teaching.
"Teaching is probably the life to suit the GAA at the moment," said Barron last January. It was an admission which perpetuated worries about hurlers and footballers making major career decisions based upon how it could help their sporting performance.
Looking back now, Barron believes it was the correct choice. Tomorrow, he begins a primary school teaching placement in Clashmore-Kinsalebeg.
"Teaching suits a lot of people, for me I like working with kids and I’ve been doing Cúl Camps and stuff like that over the last few summers," says Barron.
"I think it was the right decision for me and at the minute I’m enjoying it a lot. I’m looking forward to going in there Monday and hopefully there’ll be a smile on the kids’ faces when we go in.
"I think they bring a new freshness and energy to you every day. I’ve been doing sub teaching a lot lately and every morning you go in, you might go in in bad form, but the first kid you meet is going to go ‘well sir, how are you today?’ and you know by the way he’s smiling and running off that he’s happy out.
"It makes you think about life as a bigger picture. If they are able to go along every day, if they see a problem every day, it might upset them for two minutes but then they are over it instantly. So I think if you can bring that into your own life in your own way, it’ll hugely benefit anyone."
Barron has also been coaching in local schools on Fridays. It's a change from a few years ago when he thought coaching would not be part of his future. Now, when he goes training with Waterford and his club Fourmilewater, he's wondering if he can use those drills when he's the one calling the shots.
The 25-year-old comes into today's Allianz Hurling League final against Limerick with a freshness, one partially brought about by Waterford's early exit from last year's championship. The Deise's summer finished in mid-June when they placed bottom of the new Munster Championship round robin series.
"We got a chance to do whatever we wanted to during the summer, which is one summer I’ve sought after for a while," says Barron.
"I went on two holidays. I went to Spain and I went to Portugal, with the lads and with my girlfriend. It was nice to be able to do them things that I haven’t been able to do the last few years. It would refresh you in a way, and you’re good to go again then.
"I actually watched the All Ireland in Portugal last year, I suppose drinking a few bottles of Corona and sitting back relaxing! It’s tough to watch, you’d love to be there yourself obviously. I think even at that time you’d be saying to yourself ‘it’s time to get back on the horse, get home and get training, and try to get back to where Aaron [Gillane] and them lads are at the moment.
"It’s refreshed us as a team and we’re mad to get back at it, at places like Croke Park where we go at it again and hopefully win trophies.
"Obviously it was very hard, watching the likes of the Limerick and Cork All-Ireland semi, and then the Galway and Clare replay and stuff like that. It was very hard to watch at home. Watching them super games. Ultimately, it’s after driving us on even more.
"Going back training, it’s a lot easier than if you’re tired or if you feel like you’ve been on the road a long time."
Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Above: In attendance at the 2019 Allianz Hurling League Final preview in Croke Park is Jamie Barron of Waterford with the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 trophy. 2019 marks the 27th year of Allianz support of courage on the field of play through its sponsorship of the Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues. Waterford meet Limerick in this Sundays Division 1 decider at Croke Park at 2pm. Photos by Sportsfile