The first thing one notices about Paudie Foley when he steps into a room is his massive physical presence. Standing at well over six feet, the rangy half-back is blessed with a huge strike and an exceptional ability to read the play.
Taking into account his aerial ability, he is one of the most promising young defenders in the country and the launchpad for DCU’s attack.
2017 proved to be an historic year for DCU’s hurlers as they reached their first ever Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final, but Foley was reluctant to call the season an outright success.
“It was a step forward. I wouldn’t really call it an achievement yet. We have the potential to go further, with this year’s freshers’ team winning the All-Ireland.
“We should have beaten UCC (in the quarter-final) and we’re not losing many lads next year with the exception of Mick Heeney, Tony French and a few others, so we’re aiming to reach the Fitzgibbon final’s weekend next year.”
Nonetheless, Foley was delighted by the manner of his side’s 1-14 to 0-10 group stage victory over a confident Waterford IT.
“They came up thinking they were going to walk through us but we were quietly confident and we performed well on the night.
“Even in the defeats to LIT and UCC there were spells where we played unbelievably on the day but unfortunately came just short.”
Along with Foley, Waterford’s Patrick Curran is undoubtedly the DCU hurler with the biggest reputation, however the Crossabeg/Ballymurn star was quick to single out fellow Slaneysider Gavin Bailey, praising his work-rate and resilience.
“I always love watching Gavin Bailey play. He’s such a hard worker and does a lot of the dog work.
“As well, he’s not that long recovered from cruciate ligament and cartilage injuries. By the end of every game he’s out on his feet, which is all you can ask for.”
Having established his place on the Wexford senior hurling team in 2015, Foley has opted to take a year out from the rigours of inter-county hurling. This summer he will swap the purple and yellow of Wexford, for the blue and gold of Tipperary San Francisco.
“I’m looking forward to America but taking a year out was a difficult decision. I’m glad I’ve made the decision though so as not to be leaving half-way through.”
The prospect of working under current Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald in the near future is one that excites Foley, who was delighted to see his inter-county colleagues gain promotion to Division 1A of the National Hurling League.
“There’s such effort being put in this year and I’m delighted for the lads that they’re being rewarded. I’d say it’s been upped by 30% from what it was last year with Davy there now.
“He has his set up the way he wants it, there’s no half measures. I talked to him at the start of the season and he was very understanding. Davy is a players’ man so hopefully I’ll be able to get back in there next year.”
Indeed, Wexford hurling has been on somewhat of a high for the past five years, winning three consecutive Leinster underage titles between 2013 and 2015, with Foley playing a major role in the success of the latter two.
“That was what really kick-started my Wexford career. Losing two All-Ireland finals was obviously very disappointing but it was special to be involved with that team.
“There’s proper structures in place now in Wexford hurling and we’re much better equipped to challenge the likes of Kilkenny now.
“It will be interesting to see the two of them in the National League quarter-final this weekend but we’re definitely in a much better position than previous years to take them on.”
Aside from his hectic hurling schedule, Foley is studying PE and Biology with the aim of becoming a secondary school teacher.
“Taking the year out has been greatly beneficial in terms of the amount of time I can dedicate to studying. If I was heading home for training that would be both Tuesday and Thursday evening gone, as well as being tired the next day, so the break is great in that sense.
“I’d love to get a job in a school where I can help to develop things. Even in terms of extra-curricular activities and GAA, I’d love to be able help bring things on a step to the next level.”
Whether he’s in the classroom or on the pitch, Foley approaches everything with eyes wide open, full of vision. You can be certain that he will be back sooner rather than later manning the defence for Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford charges.
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