“Ever since I started I knew I loved it”. At the young age of four Jamie McGrath knew football was his passion. Known in his local community as “the child with the ball always with him” it was inevitable that Jamie was destined for big things. Irish football journalist Mark McCadden has labelled him “A super prospect” while the Irish sporting site The42.ie has tipped Jamie to succeed and forge a successful career himself in England and to follow the paths of other League of Ireland exports such as Seamus Coleman, James McClean and Shane Long. I managed to catch up with Jamie to discuss how he juggles a football career with his college life.
His passion for the game stemmed from training with his Dad’s team from a young age. At the age of five, playing with his older brother and boys that were at the ages of 10/11, McGrath had to learn quickly to keep up. So how did he go from playing with his local club to playing with some of the best players in Ireland. Before he hit the teenage years, his father removed him from the local club and brought him up to Dublin, it was here that it all began. At the age of twelve he began playing for the Ballyfermot club Cherry Orchard, one of the most successful clubs in Dublin whose youth section have produced international footballers such Glenn Whelan, Andy Reid and Keith Fahey. Jamie had to endure long two hour journeys up and back from training three nights a week! He did this from sixth class right up to sixth year even with the added stress of the Leaving Certificate.
However, despite his passion and love for the beautiful game, working hard for success comes at a cost. It wasn’t all clear sailing for Jamie, travelling from Athboy to Dublin on weekdays along with missing out on social events were constant uprising issues “Being in 6th class you want to just go out and play with your friends” McGrath explains, “You have to miss out on a lot of events your mates are doing because your training.” Fast forward to 2017, nothing has changed if anything it has got worse. While being a full-time student, Jamie now must juggle being a full-time footballer this year, after signing for Dundalk during the off-season, “At times college can be very stressful with training nearly every day at three or four o’ clock and in with now training in Dundalk instead of Dublin this year it is more difficult but I’m used to the stress and the travelling now since I’ve been doing it from such a young age so it’s not the worst!” McGrath added with tongue and cheek “I haven’t failed an exam in college yet so I like to think I’m doing something right!”