Rory O'Carroll: I'm open to the idea I may never play for Dublin again
All-Star leaving behind a shot at history and admits he may never play for Dublin again
Published 26/02/2016 | 02:30
For most on the inter-county circuit, the thought of walking away from the chance to be among the most decorated players in your county's illustrious history would be too much to even contemplate.
A fourth All-Ireland medal would set Rory O'Carroll apart in Dublin GAA circles but in a little over a fortnight, he'll get on a plane to start what will be at least a year abroad with a smile on his face.
For others, departing the stage a moment sooner than is absolutely necessary is unthinkable.
It's not that O'Carroll doesn't care, it's just that he's maybe not as blinkered as the rest of us. When he's playing, the GAA is his world, but it's never his whole universe.
"Everyone is different. I'm very comfortable with those sort of things and I suppose I've done it in the past and that has made it easier," O'Carroll said, at the launch of the adidas and Life Style Sports Boost Run that takes place in Dun Laoghaire on Friday, March 4.
"While when I'm in that bubble I take it very seriously and it's something I love to do but I also love to do other things.
"Maybe that makes it a bit easier. I can only speak for myself, and as I said I will miss it and I will miss a lot of aspects of it, but there are other avenues and paths in life I'd like to go down as well."
He couldn't be called an accidental footballer but he can certainly take it or leave it.
In late 2008, he was a sub on the Kilmacud Crokes team when then manager Paddy Carr called on him in that year's Leinster final to help put the shackles on a marauding Rhode team. The following March he was Crokes' starting full-back as they won the All-Ireland.
Later than year, Pat Gilroy handed him his championship debut against Westmeath but he hardly stalked the opportunity. A few weeks after that O'Carroll was in the Far East travelling with friends.
College work saw him spend time in France which saw him miss a league campaign. Ever since making his breakthrough, O'Carroll has been aware of life outside football.
"First of all I was surprised I was on the (Crokes) senior team. I was thinking, 'I suppose I'm just here to, you know, just bring in a few minors type of thing'. Then I was just happy enough to be on the panel, let alone anything else.
"Then when I got on in that game I was delighted to get on as a sub and then I suppose it just went from there.
"So I wasn't thinking much along those lines (of winning All-Irelands). I had only played a year at minor and hadn't played U-21 yet."
Three All-Ireland medals later and O'Carroll's place in Dublin history is assured but his next 12 months will be very different.
He's unsure if he'll be waking up in the small hours to follow the fortunes of his former team-mates from New Zealand. In any case, he "prefers watching hurling".
And so far this year, the TV screen is the closest he's been to the Dublin set-up as they have made a perfect start to the league.
His schedule is much more relaxed now and he's winding down his job as a social worker here before going travelling.
His body is glad of the rest too though he's keen to stress the prospect of picking up another concussion wasn't a factor in his decision to travel.
Work will bring him to Auckland and he's aware there are three GAA clubs there that will help him keep his eye in. At 26, time is on his side and he could yet return to play for Gavin. Some suggest he might even go hurling on his return though that's not to say he'll be back in a Dublin jersey, or even in Ireland, any time soon.
In fact he's prepared for the possibility he'll never play again. And he is at peace with that.
"Older players might be able to answer this but do they look back on their careers and think about how many medals they won or do they think about the different times and the moments and this match or that match?
"I'd like to think that those are the things I'd think about in 30 years' time rather than the number of medals I actually won. That's the way I look at it.
"I don't believe in retiring as such. What I have said to Jim (Gavin) is I asked him not to consider me for selection for the 2016 season.
"That could last forever and I might never play for Dublin again but I don't like to put any limits or titles on things.
"I'm open to the idea I could play again, I'm open to the idea I may never play again.
"I'll just see how it goes. I'm not too worried about what is down the line."