Getting called up to play for your county and debuting a few days later isn't a regular occurrence for an inter-county hurler. But for former Dublin goalkeeper Brendan McLoughlin, that's exactly what happened when he bypassed the usual trials and tough winter training regime.
Back in 1995 he was playing with his club O'Tooles against St Vincent's in the Boland Cup final and the then Dublin manager Jimmy Grey was an interested spectator. McLoughlin caught his eye and before the week was over he had lined out for Dublin against Antrim. That same year the Dublin footballers won the All-Ireland and McLoughlin remembers it as a great time for Gaelic games in the capital.
"The footballers were winning Leinster championships and competing at the top level all the time. There was great hype surrounding the GAA. Everybody wanted a piece of the footballers and in fairness we got our fair share of publicity too; every league and championship game was covered."
McLoughlin lined out in goals for the Dubs for almost ten years.
"Playing for Dublin was something I aspired to from the time I was a kid. Wearing the Dublin jersey was a big thing for me and it was enough to keep me committed.
"It was tough at times when we weren't winning but when you are surrounded by a good group of lads, it makes it better. We were all committed and we had great fun."
Together with his brother, McLoughlin owns a company called safetrader.ie, an online directory displaying contact details for tradesmen in different localities.
He is currently in the middle of pre-season hurling and football training with O'Tooles. The goalkeeper still has a huge interest in Dublin GAA and has been following the hurlers' progress over the last few years.
"The hurlers have set a new standard and they need to build on what they've achieved. Being in Division 1 will help, every game they play in the league will be against good opposition and that will run into the championship and better prepare them for what lies ahead.
"The new generation of Dublin hurlers have no fear; they played against the likes of Kilkenny and Tipperary underage and beat them. We were playing against Dj Carey, John Power and Charlie Carter and we were intimidated by them. It was hard not to be in awe of them. The new lads coming through are not in awe of anyone. We just didn't have the same mentality."
Sunday Indo Sport