LAST YEAR CONOR O’Mahony appeared on the Late Late Show where he illustrated another side to life as an inter-county hurler. The Newport man may have had an All-Ireland senior medal to his name and he may have had the status of an All Star winning defender. But off the field there was frustration and difficulties as the Tipperary player was without employment, another victim of the country’s economic crisis.
Over twelve months on he has positive news to report. O’Mahony is involved with a fledgling company called ‘Irish Bobbles’ that create figurines to promote Irish culture, history and sport. Being immersed in business has ensured he is in high spirits as he gets set for Tipperary’s Munster championship opener against Cork on Sunday.
“This time last year I was just out of work but I’m lucky enough now that myself and another guy are after starting up a business, Irishbobbles.com. Basically we do all figurines for all the 32 counties of Ireland in GAA. We’re doing these soccer ones as well, the FAI models. We’re fully endorsed by the FAI, Umbro and 3. We’re delighted with the feedback we’re getting from it.
“The idea came from a partner that’s in it. He’s living over in the States and he saw that the bobble heads are massive there. When you go to any of the baseball matches or basketball matches, bobble heads are like the flags here. So basically he decided that we’d bring it to Ireland and give it a go.
“They’re all generic and a few of them like Noel McGrath that are baby-faced! Hopefully in another year we’ll have all the rugby players with Munster, Connacht rugby, Leinster and Ulster. It’ll be a full 12-month season. I was always involved in construction and this is different. You’re having meetings with all these big shots so it’s just trying to get them on your side to give you the go-ahead. We have over 80 shops selling them at the moment and on the website as well. It’s just getting the name out there and making people aware that the product is there.
“It’s great to be doing something. At times you’d be contemplating maybe going off to Australia and the US where all your friends are going. The big thing for me is that hurling is keeping me here so I have no interest in going away. To have the day job from nine to five helps the peace of mind. You have that feelgood factor that at least you’re getting up for something in the morning.”
O’Mahony is enthused about the prospect of travelling to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday but the memories of their comprehensive loss to Cork at the venue two years ago place him on his guard.
“Cork whitewashed us that day so we have to get our own house in order. If we don’t perform we’re going to be well beaten. You have to stay plugging away in games. You can’t just flick a switch and start hurling. We believe in what we’re doing and that’s what got us over the line in the end against Limerick in the quarter-final a few weeks ago.”