Austin Gleeson chats to Off The Ball about almost walking away from hurling and working with Derek McGrath

The 21-year-old discusses his early years in the county set-up and the relationship McGrath shares with his players

Austin Gleeson

Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan 

Austin Gleeson knows all about the weight of expectation. Despite his young age, he has become one of Waterford's most influential hurlers and is widely regarded as one of the country's best talents.

After turning 21 last week, he spoke to Off The Ball about the unique bond Waterford boss Derek McGrath has with his players and about a time where he almost walked away from the sport.

"It was just after the first year on the panel and I went straight from minor to back into action with the club," he said.

"We got to the club county final that year and we ended up losing that. Then we lost the next game and the next again with U21. It was a moment of madness on my part and I text Derek one night and said 'I need a break for a little while'.

"We met up the next day and he was explaining things through and the second I started talking to him I thought 'I wish I hadn't sent the text'. It was just a heat of the moment thing and being down after losing a match. It was a moment of madness on my own part."

The mooted break from hurling was taken in good spirits by McGrath, a manager who Gleeson holds in high regard.

"The stuff that goes on between Derek and the player that no one else will know about. That's the way he is. He's a phenomenal man-manager and you can go to him about absolutely anything and it'll stay between the two of you. 

"If you go to him it feels like a weight off your shoulders and he sort of reacts and gives you different scenarios of what could happen if you went about doing something. Things start to click in your head and you think 'Maybe that's the right way to go or maybe that is'. Then after two or three days of thinking he'd ring you and say 'Well how's the head'. He's always there whatever happens.  

"It's the same with any of the backroom team, if you need anything they're there for you. I suppose it's like a club team the way we're going. Hopefully we can keep going that way."

You can listen to tonight's full interview by clicking on the podcast below.