from the Indo
TIPPERARY star Padraic Maher would have left the country in search of work but for Thurles Sarsfields' extended run in the Munster club hurling championship.
Maher, who will line out for Sarsfields against Waterford champions De La Salle in the provincial final on Sunday, is only one of a host of inter-county stars around the country who are considering moving abroad.
"I'd say only that I'm hurling for Sarsfields at the moment, I would have left the country for a couple of months anyway and tried to work somewhere else," he said. "Thankfully, the club are going well, so I have something to keep me occupied. Some days you find something to do but other days really drag."
Maher was training as a plumber before switching to the University of Limerick to study a course in fitness last year, while he also coached at the county's 'Cul' camps during the summer.
And, while he acknowledged he'd find it difficult to walk away from a hurling career that has yielded All-Ireland medals at minor, U-21 and senior, he said that the longer he is out of work, the more likely he is to consider a move abroad.
"Hopefully, something will crop up, because I'd hate for it to come to the point where I would have to go somewhere to try and earn a few pounds.
"Maybe seven or eight years ago, if you were an inter-county player, you would be guaranteed a job, but that is no good to me now.
"It's tough at the moment and I wouldn't be the only GAA player that is out of work. I'd be hoping that will change. Between now and Christmas I wouldn't say much will happen but, please God, something will pop up in January."
An extended Tipperary panel has already met Eamon O'Shea to plan out their 2013 campaign, with Maher admitting it was much different to the first time he came across the Kilruane MacDonagh's man when he was acting as coach in Liam Sheedy's back-room team.
"We know each other inside out now," said Maher at the national awards to volunteers in Irish sport function at the Aviva Stadium.
"When I came into the panel in 2009, you had to Google him (O'Shea) to see who he was. But that's a good sign – because we had to Google (new coach) Paudie O'Neill this year.
"It can work out better when he doesn't know the players and we don't know him. It was the same with Eamon and that worked out great.
"Eamon was one of the best coaches I have had. This time it's a bit different, though. He's a manager and he has different responsibilities.
"It is exciting to come into a new set-up knowing what the management are capable of doing and having had a taste of it in 2009 and 2010."
Maher, who expects senior players like Eoin Kelly and Brendan Cummins to remain on for next year, said all of the players are eager to atone for the disastrous manner of their defeat at the hands of Kilkenny.
"We took a lot of criticism after the Kilkenny game – the way we were beaten," he said. "It was hard to take, especially from our own supporters, but they are paying money to go into the match, so they can have their opinions. The only way we can turn that around is with our performances."
- Donnchadh Boyle