Monday 19 February 2018

Elusive Corbett keeps to himself as rumours sweep county

Lar Corbett and girlfriend
Elaine Gleeson at the 2010
Gaelic Players' Association
Lar Corbett and girlfriend Elaine Gleeson at the 2010 Gaelic Players' Association Awards
Barman John Lawlor behind the counter at Lar Corbett's bar, 'Lar Corbetts at Coppingers'
Emmanuel Maher, a customer at Noel Ryan's Bar

Barry Duggan

ANY man who can score a hat-trick of goals in an All-Ireland hurling final has a proven gift for being elusive. And Lar Corbett is one such man.

His home town of Thurles was yesterday still struggling to come to terms with his shock withdrawal from inter-county hurling the previous day, but the man himself was keeping a low profile.

The official line is that he is leaving to concentrate on his business. But, as is often the case in sudden GAA departures, there is also rumour and counter rumour over a possible rift in the Tipperary senior hurling camp between the player and management.

"I'd just like to keep to myself," the 30-year-old replied -- by text -- at one point to the barrage of questions and messages yesterday.

But, in the absence of hard information in the "home of hurling", there was plenty of loose talk to fill the gap.

One suggestion that can be immediately discounted is that the 2010 hurler of the year is considering emigration.

Over the coming weeks and months Mr Corbett will instead be concentrating on work at his popular bar, Lar Corbetts at Coppingers, in Thurles.

He recently got engaged to his long-term girlfriend, Elaine Gleeson, also from Thurles. The couple have just returned from a three-week holiday in Australia where they attended the wedding of a brother of Ms Gleeson's.

But there was only one topic of conversation at the Parnell Street bar yesterday. Kevin Coppinger -- his partner in the pub -- has known the hurler since the pair were in primary school.

"Whatever Lar wants to do, I'll fully respect him and support him in that decision. It is a hard task trying to juggle being an inter-county hurler and taking care of the pub at the same time," Mr Coppinger said.

"We are trying to make a success of this (the pub) and it is a tough time to do business," he added.

The area's most-prominent politician, Michael Lowry, was in agreement.

"We have to take notice when somebody of his stature makes that decision," he said. "As a Tipperary man and a GAA man, I accept Lar's reasons. The level of commitment involved is becoming harder every year.

"This is a simple case of a player being at a crossroads. Lar is 30, is getting married and has a business to run. His decision emphasises the level of commitment required to be a top GAA player."


Mr Lowry said he hoped Mr Corbett's decision is temporary as opposed to permanent.

And there was certainly a feeling yesterday that this is not the end of the story.

It is understood that Mr Corbett spent a couple of hours on Monday discussing his future with Tipperary boss Declan Ryan.

Jimmy Coppinger, Kevin's father, said he wanted to see Mr Corbett back in the county colours and would certainly try to twist his arm. Jimmy trained him at underage level with Durlas Og before he graduated to current club Thurles Sarsfields.

"Lar is a great hurler. I'll try to talk him out of it," he said.

At another nearby watering hole, Noel Ryan's, Emmanuel Maher was digesting the news.

"People that came into my shop today and everyone has an opinion and they all believe there is something more behind Lar Corbett retiring. There is the work reasons, but people's feelings are there must be a falling out somewhere behind the scenes."

The only son of publicans Eddie and Breda Corbett, Lar trained as an electrician and worked with the same employer for more than 10 years before the economic recession rendered him redundant.

Last year, he spoke openly on the 'Late Late Show' about being faced with the prospect of emigration and collecting social welfare before entering the pub trade.

Irish Independent

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