From All Ireland glory at minor level with Kilkenny in 2014 to the city of Melbourne playing Aussie Rules by 2016, Darragh Joyce has done something no Cat has done before.
Joyce signed with St. Kilda at just 19 and has been there ever since. Becoming the first Kilkenny man to represent the club and becoming just the third Irishman to ever represent St Kilda in its 149-year history. Even though Kilkenny and the Joyce’s are famed for hurling, the Rower Inistigoe player actually impressed scouts on the football pitch while playing with Good Counsel in Wexford.
Making that move at 19 was no doubt a huge decision for the young man however the move could have happened even sooner. Speaking to Scoreline from Australia Darragh explained how he needed to mature before making the life-changing decision;
“I was definitely quite conflicted. I was just 17 for a draft in Melbourne for a trial combine, that is when I got my eyes open to everything. I was here for three weeks, and at the end of the week, there were contracts being spoken about. At the end of the week, there were contracts being spoken about, but I was nervous and homesick at the prospect of a contract being put before me.”
“I was down with Tadhg Kennelly, he was like our chaperone. He could sense it in me and pulled me aside and said If you are not ready for it right now, who is to say you won’t be in a year’s time. St. Kilda said they could see what Tadgh was saying”.
“That year I went to UCD, with that extra year in college, you mature an awful lot. That helped me.”
You cannot win an All-Ireland with your county and soon forget. Many people have had to make a choice when it came to putting on the black and amber or pursuing other sports. Paul Murphy by all accounts was a great goalkeeper for Fort Rangers in the day with some expecting him to go professional in England before he joined the armed forces.
Conversations happen and advice is sought, however surprisingly a Kilkenny hurling legend was the voice that proved to be the catalyst for the move.
“The pull of hurling was massive, especially with my brother Kieran (Joyce) having so much success. Eddie Brennan was the under 21 manager that year and I had a chat with him before training. He said if he ever had the opportunity to do something like that again he would jump at it. We had a great chat and that solidified it with me that I wanted to do it.”
“Eddie probably did not think much of the conversation at the time, but I took a lot from it.”
Listen back to the full interview on Full Time with Sinead Kehoe below