Gearóid McInerney is one of Galway’s key men and one of the best defenders in the country. At 28, he an All-Ireland title and an All-Star to his name. The Tribesmen fell short at the chance of winning back to back All-Ireland last year, but Gearóid returned to Croke Park in February with his club Oranmore – Maree to claim All-Ireland Intermediate Club honour.
A special day for the McInerney clann as Gearóid’s Dad and former Galway hurler Gerry manages the team and his brother Seán lined out with him as well.
“Winning that day in Croke Park with my family and club, probably has to be my favourite hurling memory. It was really special.”
It comes as no surprise that Gearóid would one day dawn the Galway jersey, as hurling is completely ingrained in his family.
“I don’t know any different! It has always been there. My family are completely engrossed in hurling, they watch all the games. I was sports-mad growing up, I played everything I could. Hurling, gaelic, soccer, rugby and basketball. I ended up picking the best of the bunch.
“Dad would have played a lot, he played for Galway back in the day. It’s so big in our house and it would have always been on television. One of my favourite memories would have been going to the Galway v Kilkenny game back in 2005. It was an all-round great day and a super game that was full of goals. As kid, I always used to look up to Muhammad Ali, but I looked up to my Dad so much as well. He would have been my own personal sporting hero.”
Off the pitch, Gearóid knows how important it is to take time away and try to relax.
“It is important to have close friends and when you can switch off, make sure you do. Sometimes, it’s tricky at times to take yourself away from it all, especially when you are going to training regularly and giving it everything you have. But if you can switch yourself off and come up with different things or ways to distract you, it only benefits you. When it comes to nerves or pressure, I don’t think about it too much. I try and keep my mind distracted. The pressure just comes from within, so it’s up to you to stay on top of it.
Sometimes, I would get nervous, but rarely. You try not to. The thing with nerves is, they build up and then you realise there is no point thinking about it until the day. There is no point in wasting too much energy thinking about the outcome, it’s more important to just focus on the here and now.”
If anyone knows about the highs and lows of hurling, it’s Gearóid. So how does he stay motivated?
“I think motivation comes from within your inner self and it depends on what you want to achieve. If you are making big commitments in your sport, you have to dig deep and thrive to be better. It’s that feeling of winning and knowing that you can do better and then seeing the results of your hard work! It can be very frustrating at times, you are trying to set a standard and it’s all about a journey there. One of the hardest things is trying to get back up again after loses, it’s pretty tough. But then again, that is all part of the sport. And that’s why we love it so much.”