I’ve been fortunate enough to see many, many great sportsmen and women from a host of different types of sporting endeavour as my father did everything in his power to bring us see those who had reached the very top of their game. I’m talking here of people like Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Seve Ballesteros, Sonia O’Sullivan and I have huge admiration for that glorious combination of raw talent, hard work and determination.
In the last couple of years, I’ve been watching the blossoming of Waterford hurler, Austin Gleeson, who is raw talent personified and am absolutely thrilled that, at the tender age of 21, he has been designated Hurler of the Year in Ireland and well as Young Hurler of the Year.
Just take a look at this photograph of Austin Gleeson which I took at the homecoming of the victorious Waterford Under 21 All-Ireland winning team this year.
It’s hard to imagine that one so young could have the skill and talent that this guy displays on the field of play. When the sliotar (ball) comes near him the crowd becomes electrified because he has such touch and pure athleticism:
Austin Gleeson is Mr. Humility and never, ever fails to make the point that his team mates are every bit as important as he is to the teams on which he plays. He’s right, of course, but there is a recognition in the world of Gaelic games and beyond that we are looking at one of those rare talents that we may only see a handful of times in our lives: hurlers like Christy Ring, Jimmy Doyle, Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Nicky English, D.J Carey, Henry Shefflin, Ken McGrath and John Mullane.
So, it’s a night when the Waterford Hurling Anthem is echoing all around me and I simply can’t stop smiling and hoping that we’ll have many, many more happy days cheering Aussie and the lads on the great hurling pitches of Ireland.