Saturday, January 23, 2010

Shaw insists IHL is "the one I want"

With the IHL heating up this weekend, Graham Shaw admits it’s the one title he cherishes more than any other as the domestic hockey season heats up in earnest.

The Glens play Three Rock at Grange Road, needing to get back on track after a home defeat against Cookstown but the formidable midfielder says the club’s focus is mainly on lifting the coveted new trophy.

“The IHL is the one I want now, big time. We were so unlucky in the last few years, just met Pembroke on good days and probably should have beaten them on two occasions but they beat us on strokes so it’s definitely the one I want.”

For Shaw, it would complete a full set of national titles in the same season that he reached the 150 cap milestone, placing him in the most elite of company in the Irish game.

Strange to think then, that the Colaiste Eanna man could have left stick behind him and taken up a contract in England as a professional footballer. Shaw doubled up as an Irish U-15 hockey and Republic of Ireland U-15 footballer during the school days, earning trials with a number of English clubs but when asked why he eventually stuck with hockey he admits: “I don’t really know”.

“It’s the kind of decision I’ve asked myself a few times. I got trials abroad, I was doing well getting offered a few contracts but my family and I wanted to get my Leaving Cert.

“Somewhere between the end of fifth year and the summertime, I decided I was going to give up soccer. I can’t really tell you why. I’d been with the Irish U-18s and been away with the youth Olympics. I enjoyed that so much that I’d go and play hockey. It seems a mad decision now!”

Soccer’s loss, though, was hockey’s gain – specifically Ireland and Glenanne. A young Shaw began to make his name when he scored in the 1996 Mills Cup final as the Glens made their trophy-winning breakthrough against YMCA with a 4-3.

It was the genesis of the sustained success from the Tallaght club which fed through into an All-Ireland success in 2000; the moment Shaw believes the Glens truly arrived.

“Beating Lisnagarvey in Belfield was a great win and a step forward for us as a club. From that onwards, we’ve established ourselves in the top two or three clubs in the country.

“But it’s not only a confidence thing; you need to have the team there. The important thing was we were getting to cup finals all the time, we knew what the final was and how to win them whereas we met other teams who were thinking, ‘how are we going to beat them?’ We were thinking ‘we are going to win this and that’s the end of it’. That comes from playing those big games.”

As for his international career, Shaw hit the magical 150 cap mark against Argentina in the World Cup Qualifiers in the autumn, a tie Ireland needed to win to stand any chance of reaching the February’s showpiece event.

As such, Shaw admits he had precious little time to consider the importance of the milestone.

“When you get to 150 in such a big tournament and such a big game it doesn’t really come into play as much as in a friendly game. The fact we needed to win by a scoreline, there was no real focus on the cap whatsoever, it was all on the game.

“After, you get time to reflect and it means a lot to you but, at that stage, it’s just all about the game.

“I haven’t really sat down and reflected on my whole career. It’s brilliant though when you think of how much you can learn from different players and their styles, trying to pick things up off them and them off you. Some of the guys I played with like Paddy Brown and Davey Smyth, Raph [Mark Raphael] in the early years... some super players.

“The two Europeans have been nice, going into an international tournament and winning something. Those two were the highlights, the disappointing one was the Champion’s Challenge; it was a bit of a sucker-punch. We played well in that tournament and should have gone on and won it.”

The hunger still exits to make it to a major for Shaw and with the Olympics in London 2012, he says he has no plans on hanging up his stick just yet.

“At the moment I am sticking around. After a tournament, you have to chill out for a while and then reflect. It’s going depend on career, where I am work-wise but a year and a half isn’t a huge amount of time and you’re going to be out of the game a long time. I’ll assess that at the end of the season, sit down with Revs and see where we are.”


Anonymous said...

Shaw you have been class all your career. Well done on 150. The football money would have been nice though. Fair play. legend.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Well done Graham, a super achievement and i think you have been on of the best players this country has produced.It has been a pleasure to watch you over the last few years and think that you are playing some of the best hockey of your career at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Graham. Wonderful achievement making the 150. Hang in there for 2010. Not only a great player but a great person also. Great servant to the glens and a class act all round