It’s hard not to respond sometimes. In the end, I’m the one who looks stupid – The Irish Times

The last time Austin Gleeson played in the Waterford County Final, he was 19 and was sent off. Ballygunner gave his side at Mount Sion a correct old paste in the 2014 segment and got a second yellow card late. It was one of those – the game is long gone, and the day he loses to death, nothing is at fault but one last outpouring of anger that had nowhere else to go. No one held it against him.

how to? He was brilliant in central defense when the match was still a game, stemming the flow of Ballygunner’s possession and playing a human shield to the Mount Sion linebacker. If anything, the double yellow was probably a mark in the pro column – even when there was nothing left to play for, he was still right there giving him Holly. You wouldn’t take any little boy by the ear for that, no matter what the club’s future might be.

crushing pieces. Eight years of time. Waterford reached a million in the league semi-final against Wexford in a match where Gleeson was all he hoped to be as a teenager. Two goals in the first half, both coming at the end of a sprint from the left, were both drilled through Mark Fanning before the goalkeeper had a chance to question why he did it the hard way. A total of 2-3 for the day, is the best player in the game.

You know what’s left of it. He and Simon Donohoe get tangled up at the finish line. Gleeson jogs outside to take his position for a curl but bounces back with a Hurley butt on his way. Donohoe captures in the abdomen. The Wexford man sinks to his knees. Referee John Keenan flashes red. The TG4 shoots Liam Cahill on the Waterford side, looking like he’s about to get into a neck-shaking trade.

“That was stupidity on my part,” Gleeson says now. “I don’t mind, I’d be friendly enough with Simon. We were going to play together in college for the Freshers and we were going to have a few good nights together. I was playing really well throughout the game and had a lot of confidence after the match out. And it’s a team game – the players kept achieving Great win over Cork in the final so that was all that mattered in the end.

“On Monday we spoke in the recovery session and I spoke to management and we decided not to do that or look for an appeal. There could have been a lot of noise around it and it would have taken the focus off the win. Fortunately, that is what we did.”

Gleeson turned 27 this year. He ran out of freedom that people tended to give him when he was nineteen years old. His reputation inside and outside Waterford is not complicated at this point. Brilliant pitcher, one of the few real players in a game that’s getting tougher. But he’s puzzlingly prone to having his toes riven by a tracking bullet.

“Ah, look, it was one of those stupid moments I had,” he says. “I don’t know why I’m doing it, to be honest with you. Just a dumb moment. To be honest, it’s probably things I have to think about again. But at the end of the day, I can’t change the past. I just try to move on and try to focus on the next thing and the next thing.” .

“If I’m going to affect the stupid things I’ve done, I’d probably still play because I did a few of them. But I’ve learned. I’ve improved over the years. To be fair, there are moments in every season where I could have gone and done the stupid thing he would probably expect. people from me but I didn’t.

“I tried to take it out of my game and I think I did to some extent. I don’t react to most of the punishment I get. I know everyone gets punished in the game and you can’t respond. But sometimes it’s hard not to respond. In the end, I’m the one who Sounds stupid. I’m the one who says, “Look what you’re after you’re done.” But you just have to move on with it. It’s something you can’t change once it’s over, you know?”

As it turns out, it was that spring week where they defeated Wexford and Cork within six days of peak Waterford season. They went from All-Ireland runner-up to Monster as well in quick double time, confusing themselves as much as the outside world. They tried everything, but it was as if their season had gotten complicated – the more they pulled, the more difficult they felt.

We can’t just turn around and say, “We deserve to win this and we deserve to win it.” Because we didn’t prove it

“We still don’t really know what happened,” Gleeson says. “If it looked bad on the outside, it was bad on the inside. Long and short is that we’ve played 12 games as Robin Monster now and lost 11 games.

“We totally thought we’d learned from the previous years and that we could go all the way forward. We’ve been building on the past couple of years and we felt our game plan was set. For whatever reason, that’s [championship] The chassis did not fit Waterford. We have to fix that.”

On the day the tournament ended, Liam Cahill was asked if expectations had caught up with them. Amid the wreckage of another defeat – this time against Claire in Ennis – he wasn’t inclined to regard it as the main reason his team’s season collapsed to dust. But he took it in typical Cahill fashion – right between the eyes, not putting a tooth in it.

“The bottom line, if you are going to be one of the best teams in the country, you are going to have to deal with that and keep going. These players will have to learn how to deal with it because they will find themselves in this position again.

“Talent like that doesn’t go away. They’re going to run into that obstacle again, and if we do, we’re going to have to handle it a little differently. You can’t wrinkle and die under it like it seems to have happened over the past two or three weeks.”

For Gleeson, his whole life in slander has been about anticipation. A gem in the eye of Mount Sion along the way, the natural heir to the immortal Ken McGrath. The star of Waterford’s best junior team in decades. Hurler of the Year and Young Hurler at 21 years old. All of that – but not all of Ireland. Expectation is a difficult thing to define, again harder to satisfy.

“It might have gotten into the heads of a few people, I don’t know,” he says. “But at the end of the day, we don’t have what to expect. We’ve won so few in our history. We can’t turn around and say, ‘We deserve to win this and we deserve to win it.’ Because we didn’t prove it.”

“Maybe something. Maybe we were a little naive or maybe we saw that we were going to win some games because we won the league. And maybe Liam was right – I know I’d rather go into a game as an underdog. There’s less pressure on you. And I think being the favorite in two of those games Maybe it didn’t help us.”

Summer came too early but he found it all useful. One of his best friends was getting married in early June and he attacked the weekend stag with a heart full. His sister’s wedding weekend was in the All Ireland semi-finals and he was enjoying not having to have that conversation. He left his boat for a month before returning to the club – although he was captain of the year, they gave him all the time he needed.

So life has been simple for the past few months. He’s been coaching the U-15s at Mount Sion and that takes the time he’s not playing or training with the big guys. Eight years is a long time to go without the boycott being final but they have finally found their way.

I thought we’d go back to the finals a few times after that first time, but we’ve faced Paligner in the semi-finals and the quarter-finals a few times and it’s pretty cool.

The Ballygunner they face this weekend is not the one they met in 2014. Back then, their opponents were hurt by the previous year’s losing final and hadn’t won the title since 2011. Since then they’ve continued to eat Waterford entirely – champions every year since Then, controlling all degrees, there is no rational argument for a goal in sight.

“They built and built and built,” Gleeson wondered. “I thought we’d be back in the finals a few times after that first time, but we’ve faced Paligner in the semi-finals and quarter-finals a few times and they are absolutely fantastic. They are not the champions of Ireland by chance. He has generously deserved it and the conveyor belt does not stop.

“We have to do brutal work to get to their level. Every Waterford throw has to do. In the end, what they do and what they have achieved is develop Waterford throwing. I was watching their middle team one night and Harry Ruddell was a winger forward for them. This class scored the winning goal in the Last year’s All-Ireland Final and he only makes his mediocre team. Young Patrick Fitzgerald is there too. That’s what they built and fair play for them.”

Mount Sion will appear, in spite of everything. They will conduct it. If they stay in touch and make it fun, we can be sure Gleeson will make an impact.

One way or another, you won’t want to take your eyes off him.

Waterford SHC . Final

Ballygunner v Mount Sion, Walsh Park, Sunday, 2.30pm – Live on TG4