Louth GAA dual star hoping to balance football and hurling commitments in 2020
Paul Mathews is the great enigma of Louth inter-county teams at the moment, with the St. Fechin’s man having committed to both the senior hurlers and footballers for the campaign ahead.
Having lined out for Paul McCormack’s small ball side in December’s McGurk Cup opener against Queens University, the 22-year-old featured in all three of the footballers’ O’Byrne Cup affairs, including Saturday’s defeat by Westmeath.
There have previously been players who switched codes from year-to-year, with St. Bride’s and Knockbridge clubman Andrew Smyth one such example, but Mathews is keen to balance his commitments, with McCormack and football counterpart Wayne Kierans open to the arrangement.
“I’m hoping it is (going to be a dual thing),” Mathews told The Democrat.
“I’m fully committed to both. Wayne and Paul, they work really well together so there’s no real issues over who I’m training with.
“Sometimes we train on different nights, sometimes not. It’s just whichever team are closer to a game, you’ll train with them.”
However, four of The Wee County’s hurlers’ National League matches are set to clash with big ball games, including in the opening round when McCormack’s men face Tyrone in Darver shortly before the footballers take on Longford at Pearse Park.
Ultimately, Mathews will have decisions to make. In theory, on March 1, he could play some part for the footballers, who face Leitrim in Drogheda at 2:30pm, two hours after the hurlers throw-in against Monaghan in Inniskeen. But whether such an organisation could be catered for is up in the air.
The former IT Carlow student feels the logistical collision will be dealt with in time and rejects the notion that his longer association with the hurlers, along with the fact that his brother, Conor, is also a member of that squad, will dictate where his laurels lie.
“We’ve talked about it, but we’ll meet that crossroads when it comes, I suppose,” he says of the predicament.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve really favoured the hurlers in the past, I’ve just found myself starting with the hurlers and it’s only now that I’ve got my chance with the footballers. I’ll just take what comes to me really.
“I’ve been doing both all my life with the Fechin’s, so I see no reason why I can’t do both at a higher level.”
Of course, by representing the footballers, he’s following in his father Paddy’s footsteps, the latter, now a referee, having been an Oliver Plunkett’s stalwart in his playing days.
“You hear great stories about him, so it’s nice to put on the jersey, following in his footsteps. It’s a great honour,” says Paul.
Report: Caoimhín Reilly (Dundalk Democrat)
Photo: Arthur Kinahan