Hurling

'I Made My Debut When I Was 16... Things Were A Wee Bit Different Back Then'

'I Made My Debut When I Was 16... Things Were A Wee Bit Different Back Then'

More than a decade into his inter-county hurling career, Sean McVeigh could have been forgiven for wanting to take a break. Being in another country gave him even more legitimate reason to do so.

Instead, while working in Spain for sports technology company a few years ago, he travelled back to Ireland and played with the Donegal hurlers. "You kind of get a bit of FOMO," he says.

The Donegal captain is now home in Letterkenny, working for Output Sports, a sports science company based out of UCD.

"I made my [Donegal] debut when I was about 16, I think," says McVeigh on a Thursday morning video call.

"I think there was a number of injuries, to be honest. It was a league semi-final against Longford down in Sligo. I remember I was well off the pace against these bigger lads.

"I'm 30 now, so I'm at it a right while. There's a few of us who made our debuts around the same point when we were 16,17 way back. Things were a wee bit different back then."

On Sunday, two-and-a-half hours before the Donegal footballers play Cavan in the Ulster final, McVeigh will lead the county's hurlers against Mayo in the Nicky Rackard Cup final at Croke Park. They're looking to win their third Rackard title in eight years.

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"I absolutely love playing hurling," McVeigh says.

"There's not a massive hurling community in Donegal but the community is very passionate about it.

"I suppose the big goal for us is pushing Donegal hurling forward and getting it to as high a level as possible.

"There's definitely a lot of potential within Donegal hurling. There's more and more clubs popping up now.

"We've got hurling in the west of the country for probably the first time with Dungloe. We've Gaoth Dobhair who have underage teams and Carndonagh are playing up in Inishowen. You've got Ballyshannon playing down in the south of the county. It's starting to be well spread.

"It's not going to happen overnight where you get to Joe McDonagh or Liam MacCarthy but there's definitely potential there and a lot of hard work being done, particularly at underage.

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"As a senior county team, if we can lift the bar and get to those higher levels playing against better teams, you'll see what that'll do. It'll bring it into the club championship and it'll filter down to clubs.

"There's good backing from the county board. We're not short of anything that we ask for. That goes a long way.

"We've been in Croke Park a number of times now. If we can show that to kids in Donegal, that they can get to Croke Park and play in an All-Ireland finals, then that's something for them to aspire to."

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

See Also: The 13 Most Iconic Hurling Helmets Ever Worn

PJ Browne
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