Safely back Andrew Shore after his monster ban is rescinded
SAFE to assume that Andrew Shore was a little more pleased to be Wexford's hurling representative at the Leinster GAA provincial championship launches than most of the other inter-county players present in Farmleigh House yesterday.
Because not so long ago, it looked as though this year's Leinster Senior Hurling Championship and the subsequent All-Ireland series would be an Andrew Shore-free zone.
"It was looking as if I was going to be out of the sport I love for a year," he reflects now, from the sanctity of GAA freedom.
Last November, Shore arrived home from a holiday to find a letter from Warwickshire County board informing him of a 48-week ban following his participation in a club game with Birmingham team, Roger Casements the previous month.
According to Shore - who hurls with Parnell's in Dublin - he fell foul of a misinterpretation of the rules and in late February, he was cleared to play with immediate effect by the GAA's Reinstatements Committee - but only after pleas from Wexford management, a lengthy appeal and all manner of cross-channel to-ing and fro-ing.
"I had to do what I had to do to get back," he says with a heavy degree of relief now.
"I had to go here and there. You have to respect the GAA too. They have rules to put down.
"I just had to go wherever I had to go to try and get off the thing. It wasn't…the cost wasn't going to come into it.
"I was training on my own, which is very tough. Especially when you know that lads are inside working hard.
"I was obviously worried but what kept me going was concentrating on doing that training myself.
"That if I do get a chance, that I'm ready to go back in straight away."
"I thought that I was fit going back in," Shore recalls.
"But in the first two weeks of training, I really found out about it. But I got it back very quick.
"And because I was looking after myself in the time that I was off, it probably stood to me.
"I get the fitness back very quickly."
Shoe started every game of Wexford's breakout summer in 2014 and with the county's Under 21s winning a first Leinster title at the grade since 2002, there are strong tremors being felt in the county.
It would, in hindsight, have been an awful year to miss in any circumstances.
"It would," he accepts.
"That Under 21 team…all the lads that are in with us, the likes of Conor McDonald, Eoin Conroy…they're all a year older and they know what it's like to win.
"They're after winning a Leinster Championship.
"Which is driving us on, the older lads and the more experienced lads.
"I think the expectation level has gone up in our own dressing room as well," Shore concludes.
"It's great for the fans and great for everyone but we want to try and doing something now."