Shane McNaughton reflects on highlights from minor days
AHEAD of this weekend’s Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship semi-finals, where Tipperary take on Galway and Down battle Kerry for a place in the Minor B final against either Meath or Wicklow, Antrim and Cushendall hurler Shane McNaughton - son of Saffron great Terence - reflects on some of the major moments from when he played minor for his county. Currently, McNaughton (28) is balancing playing hurling in New York and focusing on his acting career, after he finished filming for the next series of the Belfast-based drama The Fall.
Q: What’s your best memory of playing at minor level?
A: I’m fortunate to have so many great memories. However, undoubtedly playing at Casement Park on Ulster final day before the senior final has to be one of the greatest moments in my life to date. It’s what every minor player dreams of and to get that opportunity at such as young age is something no player forgets.
Q: What do you think was your greatest achievement on the field?
A: My greatest achievement has to be playing my first Championship game for Ruairí Óg, Cushendall seniors. It was a big moment in my career and provided me with the confidence in my ability I needed to keep moving forward.
Q: What advice would you give to yourself as a teenager preparing for the All-Ireland minor semi-finals?
A: On my experience, I would advise the minors to embrace the challenge and go out on that pitch relishing the battle. Be enthusiastic about everything from the moment you wake up and only think about the things that you can control.
One of the best pieces of advice I was given was ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’. I was taught that it is vital to set goals, have a purpose and intention every day and stick to it.
Q: Who has been a major influence in your life?
A: Like a lot of young men, my father has been a major influence throughout my life and still is to this day. At that time, he was the county minor manager and being part of the GAA community meant so much more to me.
Alongside Dominic McKinley, he taught us all to be better people and we didn’t even know it at the time. My father has a contagious will to win and addiction to victory and that’s something I have learned from him, which has carved my character.
Q: Did you have a part-time job? If so, how did you balance work, study, training, play etc?
A: I worked as a carer and looked after a man called John who has Down Syndrome. Working with John has had an astounding affect on me - his courage, conviction and bravery in coping with his condition was admirable.
His forward outlook on life was very positive every day and, reflecting back now, I can honestly say that he helped me just as much as I helped him. Balancing school life, working part-time and training was challenging. However, you can make it work if you are organised and plan ahead.
Q: Who was your favourite band/music artist?
A: 'The Boss' - Bruce Springsteen.
Q: Do you have any other standout memories from that time?
A: Being a teenager is a crucial time for a lot of young men and women with the open road in front of them and it is the opportune time to make lifelong friendships. I had my first holiday with the lads, passed my driving test and made the decision to head off to university in Belfast.
The one thing that really stands out is my first Championship final with Ruairí Óg, Cushendall. Walking out onto the pitch behind the band is an unforgettable feeling. I also remember going to see Westlife - 10,000 girls screaming ‘Shane’ around me - I was in heaven!
Q: Did you know what you wanted to be when you were younger?
A: Honestly, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. Playing hurling took up a major part of my life when I was growing up. I always had an interest in acting. However, I have only pursued this over the past couple of years.
After securing roles in some local plays, I managed to get a small role in the Belfast-based drama The Fall. I have also been in New York training all summer, so I am managing to juggle hurling and acting as much as I can. I don’t really think too far ahead.
I know that if it’s something I want to do, I will take the steps to do it. It’s never too late to be what you could have been.