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banner banter How a chat with a man in a Dubai bar brought Gearóid Considine a long way from Clare

After finishing with the Banner at 23, Gearóid has achieved much, including success in Oz

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Gearoid Considine in action (right) for Cratloe against Crusheen's Cathal Dillon during the 2014 Clare SHC final at Cusack Park, Ennis, Co Clare. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Gearoid Considine in action (right) for Cratloe against Crusheen's Cathal Dillon during the 2014 Clare SHC final at Cusack Park, Ennis, Co Clare. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Gearoid Considine in action (right) for Cratloe against Crusheen's Cathal Dillon during the 2014 Clare SHC final at Cusack Park, Ennis, Co Clare. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

The line from Melbourne is crystal clear as Gearóid Considine raids the lost archives of his mind.

It’s been a while since he was asked to recall when he was on a much different path to the one he’s pursuing now. Hurling was first and last.

And as a teenager he knew only that he wanted to play for Clare. And as a boarder in St Flannan’s, he was in just the right place to chase down that dream.

Since then there’s been medals, a taste of the biggest days, injuries and a sense of being cut adrift. His best-laid plans were derailed as his life spun off into a different orbit.

He was finished with Clare at 23. Two cruciate injuries speeded his exit but he makes no bones that when he wasn’t fit to play, people were much less interested and the phone fell silent.

"I had a conversation with a man in a bar in Dubai and I kept in touch with him. And he said, ‘Gearóid, there’s a job here for you’. And I remember I went for a walk with my Dad," he recalls.

"After my second cruciate I got no phone call to see how I was, it was those days. And I was a fanatic before that, 15 playing minor, 17 playing 21s, and I just thought I had to get myself sorted with an education."

So he took himself off to Dundee University to finish an engineering degree. And from there he went to Dubai and took up the job offer.

At 23, Considine was finished with county hurling. It wasn’t what he’d planned but at least he had squeezed plenty in.

By then he had already won an All-Ireland at minor level in 1997 followed by Harty Cup and All-Ireland Colleges wins with Flannan’s.

He had captained the minors in ’98 and had gone on to lead the county U-21s.

In 2001, he made his Clare debut and he’d come off the bench in the 2002 All-Ireland final to pilfer two points as Cyril Lyons’ Clare went down to Kilkenny, powered by DJ Carey and Charlie Carter.

Back then, Clare could still feel the heat generated from the glorious ’90s. Considine’s first taste of life with the Banner came under Ger Loughnane. A ferocious man over a ferocious team.

Playing in internal games in midfield against the likes of Ollie Baker and Colin Lynch, he learned quickly. The school of hard knocks was the best hurling education he could have hoped for.

"It feels like yesterday (training under Loughnane). I felt like it was Brian Clough you were going into training with. There was that respect, awe, absolute dedication. I’ve never played under any other manager since where I had that fear. And you gave it everything for that hour, or hour and a half, of training. I came on leaps and bounds in those two years," he said.

After the ’02 All-Ireland final, Clare’s team holiday took them to Dubai.

A chance conversation with a man in the bar, who pointed out the opportunities for an engineer in a booming Dubai stuck in his mind. A second cruciate injury, which, like the first, was sustained in Fitzgibbon Cup action, prompted some introspection. Hurling took a back seat.

Since then, he’s been working in London, Hong Kong and Dubai. More recently, he’s started two new businesses in Australia, New Future Careers and BrightSide Consultants, aimed at, among other things, helping the Irish diaspora relocate from one side of the world to the other.

He kept playing rugby, ran ultramarathons for charity and signed up with the GAA where he could.

On Sunday, 40-year-old knees will take to the field for the 'Ted O’Sullivan 9s' tournament in Melbourne that will see 39 teams across four codes and more than 500 players in action.

Ironically for someone who used to play for Shannon underage rugby teams, he’ll line out for the Garryowen club in what is likely the only GAA action on the planet this weekend.

"Garryowen is a member of Gaelic Games Victoria and the club members are highly aware that we are in a fortunate position to be outside, playing and meeting people," Garryowen’s Paraic McGrath said.

"We send our best wishes to every other club around the world, hoping they can all get out on their pitches very soon."

For Considine, life will be in Australia for the foreseeable future. But there’s always a draw to home and Cratloe – and to sport. In 2014, he returned from London to study in UL.

If furthering his education was a driver, then so was the chance to play with his club, then looking to harvest the rewards of producing a golden crop that included the Collins brothers, Conor McGrath, Cathal McInerney and others.

If there was unfinished business on the playing fields from finishing with Clare so early, rolling the dice with Cratloe one more time was the perfect way to sign off.

“They were going well, I was 33 and it was my last chance to win a county with Cratloe. I took the whole year off, and was just 15km from UL. I lived at home with the parents trained all year round. We did the double, it was brilliant. That scratched the itch for me.”

One path planned, but a very different one taken.

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