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Kicking in random fields to Ge...
Off The Ball

Kicking in random fields to Georgia Tech punting | Kerry teen David Shanahan

Shane Hannon
Shane Hannon

14:21 18 May 2020

Kerry teenager David Shanahan has in recent weeks seen his future change irrevocably, as he gets sets to take up a full punting scholarship with Georgia Tech's American Football side.

The 19-year-old, who spent time training with Prokick Australia in Melbourne, joined Ger and Eoin on OTB AM this morning, and the way in which his opportunity came about sounds like the script for a movie.

"My coach in Australia called me a few weeks ago to say they were probably going to offer [it], but I didn't want to get too excited. I had a Zoom call then with four of the Georgia Tech coaches on Tuesday and they offered [it] and made it official. I'm pretty ecstatic.

"My mother spent the week cleaning the house even though they were only going to see this bit!

"I always really wanted to play American Football. If it was up to me I'd probably play a cooler position like wide receiver or something! But I suppose if I was going to get in the only way I was going to get in was as a punter.

"I took it seriously when I was 16 or 17, but obviously I had nothing to compare myself to and didn't know if I was any good."

A hastily arranged kicking test in Dublin then led to his move to Oz, where he honed his skills to get to the level required by U.S. college teams.

"Fortuitously enough John Smith [of Prokick Australia] is from Manchester, and he was like 'What a coincidence, I'll fly to Dublin and we'll do an assessment.'

"I was a bit nervous, I drove up to Dublin and just had a kick in some random field near the airport in Dublin. I kicked a few balls for him and he said 'Look if you move to Melbourne and train for six to 12 months you'll probably get a scholarship'. Happy days!"

David also spent time playing rugby, but as he revealed on OTB AM, he wasn't even the kicker on the team.

"I didn't actually even take the kicks! Sure that's all politics in a small town anyway, I was playing full-back!

"I wasn't great at the start because I didn't really know what I was doing. If you take a mad swing at a golf ball it's not really going to go anywhere.

"Once I started paying attention to my technique and looking up YouTube videos on how to do it, I just got a lot better. I used to film myself doing it and break it down in slow motion."

David also used to train at his local GAA pitch down in Kerry, heading down early in the morning with his brother or a friend who would collect the balls for him.

"I used to go at half six in the morning because I was kind of embarrassed about it, I'm a bit of a freak in that I only like training by myself.

"So I figured if I go in at half six there'll be no-one there anyway. I used to cycle down from my house to the field in the morning, I saw the bread man every day. I'd say people wondered what I was doing!"

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