What Austin Gleeson has been telling reporters this week, that he nearly quit the Waterford hurling panel in 2014 for a spell because of the "pressure" he felt under, shouldn't be taken lightly.
Gleeson told reporters including Kevin O'Brien of the42.ie that at a 21st birthday party (following a heavy defeat for his club Mount Sion in the Waterford under-21 final) he sent Déise manager Derek McGrath a text message saying he needed "a break", for McGrath to respond by saying "I’ll ring you in the morning", pick him up for training the next day and soon persuade Gleeson to re-consider.
Gleeson explained the text message thus:
It was just a lot of pressure was being put on – from myself more than anything...I just felt in that moment that the demands, I just couldn’t cope with them.
His (McGrath's) man management is just incredible so the second he got me in that car I knew straight away that no matter what happened he’d always kind of be there.
Gleeson says he regrets sending the text message, that it was a "stupid decision", but lists Waterford legends Tony Browne, Dan Shanahan and Ken McGrath as people he can look to for support as well as McGrath:
A lot of fellas are there, willing to give me a hand, and if anything does pop up, I will be sure to give them a ring.
Gleeson might just be brushing off his decision to text McGrath but the fact that he felt under enough pressure at the time that he felt he had to do so is perhaps something to take note of for managers or underage players. It is talents like Gleeson who are most at risk of burn-out with county, club and college demands all taking their toll as the year goes on, especially now with a condensed fixture list for clubs in the wake of the inter-county season.
And when the Hurler of the Year is saying that he has nearly quit because of the pressure on his shoulders it is certainly worthy of our attention.