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Dessie Hutchinson | Brighton, falling out of love with soccer and Aaron Connolly

Dessie Hutchinson turns 23 in December. But he's already fit quite a lot into his sporting career...


Dessie Hutchinson | Brighton, falling out of love with soccer and Aaron Connolly

Dessie Hutchinson turns 23 in December. But he's already fit quite a lot into his sporting career.

From 2015 to 2018, the Waterford native was on the books at Premier League soccer club Brighton. He made just one EFL Cup appearance there before returning to home to play League of Ireland football with Waterford FC.

However, Hutchinson has left soccer behind to combine GAA with his studies. Indeed, he was a key part of the Ballygunner side that won the 2019 Waterford Hurling Championship, scoring 1-3 in the final.

He joined Off The Ball to discuss his decision to play Gaelic football and hurling as well as reflecting on his career so far.

"It was a new lease of life for me, to be honest, going into that sort of environment," he said of playing in the All-Ireland Football Championship for Waterford.

"It gave me a taste of what's to come within the club championship and everything. To get that training behind me, before I went in playing club games was very important. I actually didn't play a club game before I went in with Waterford. I'd played a National League game before I played a club game for my own club. So it was a bit strange but it definitely got me ready."


It came at a good time as he found himself at a crossroads after ending his spell with Waterford FC.

"At the time, I wasn't working. I was still trying to figure it all out, so that definitely gave a distraction as well keeping me in top shape," he said.

"To dive straight in was very good for me and it kept the mind occupied.

Dessie Hutchinson, hurling 22 October 2019; Ballygunner hurler Dessie Hutchinson poses for a portrait at the launch of the AIB Camogie and Club Championships. This is AIB’s 29th year sponsoring the AIB GAA Football, Hurling and their 7th year sponsoring the Camogie Club Championships. For exclusive content and behind the scenes action throughout the AIB GAA & Camogie Club Championships follow AIB GAA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

"That was the hardest part for me was coming home and settling in for that 3-4 month period where I didn't know exactly what I was going to be doing.

"Thankfully, I had good people around me. People within the GAA clubs, Waterford County Board and managers. So that was really important for me. It can go one way or another for people and thankfully for me, I was straight into keeping myself occupied and playing what I love."

But did Hutchinson fall out of love with soccer to a degree after his Waterford FC spell?

"I need a career change"

"A small bit," he replied.

"It's different when you come home because the standards are so different. The lifestyle is very different. So it was that and things were a bit uncertain at Waterford at the time. So it didn't really know where I stood. I wasn't playing as much as I wanted to. There were loads of little things that added up, that I said, 'Look, I need a career change. I'm not going to leave it until I'm 28 or 29. No disrespect to the League of Ireland but you're not going to make enough money to last you when you're finished.' For me, it was about getting back into education as early as possible."

He also gave an insight into just how competitive it is in England's youth ranks. No one from his year at Brighton is still at the club.

"I think it's one in 99 who makes it into the first-team. It is a scary thought and it is something young lads should keep in mind when they are going over," he said.

One Irish player who has made it in is Ireland international Aaron Connolly. Dessie Hutchinson crossed paths with the 19-year-old when the Galway native first arrived at Brighton.

"I was there for two years while he was there," said Hutchinson.

"And I was there when he came over. I kind of took him in a little bit and showed him around to make sure he settled in properly. And thankfully he did. You see with the chance he's getting now, he's flourishing in it and he deserves that.  It's just not many people like him are getting the chance to do it and there definitely would be a lot more players coming through if they were given that chance."

You can watch the full Dessie Hutchinson above via our YouTube channel.

Today, AIB, proud sponsors of both Club and County, have been launching their 29th year sponsoring the AIB GAA Club Football and Hurling Championships and their 7th year sponsoring the Camogie Club Championships.

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Aaron Connolly Brighton Dessie Hutchinson Gaelic Football Hurling Off The Ball Sport Waterford Waterford FC