FIONN Hurley is going above and beyond the call of duty to help Gabriel Rangers’ junior footballers this season.
The 21-year-old has clocked up over 11,000 air miles since September as he has juggled studying business abroad at KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux and also lining out for Gabriels in their successful South West and Cork county junior A football campaigns.
Hurley isn’t finished yet either, as Gabriels take on Clonoulty-Rossmore from Tipperary in a Munster junior football semi-final in Clonakilty this Saturday afternoon, at 2pm.
It means that the Gabriels defender will make the familiar journey from his apartment in Bordeaux to home in Schull again on Friday. His own unique take on Planes, Trains and Automobiles has become second nature to him.
‘I’m here on Erasmus for three months until December 9th but it’s hard to settle in when I’m not here all the time. For seven weeks straight I was travelling back and forth so I have only had three weekends in Bordeaux since the start of September,’ Fionn explained.
‘I can tell you what time I am boarding at, what gate I am at, I don’t even have to look at my boarding pass anymore, it’s always the same. I know the Charles de Gaulle Airport like the back of my hand!
‘I would leave my apartment here in Bordeaux around eight in the morning, walk five minutes to take a 40-minute bus journey to the airport. I get the flight then from Bordeaux to Paris, and at the Charles de Gaulle Airport I get on a tram to get to my terminal for a flight to Cork, and I usually have a two, three-hour wait before flying to Cork and then it’s the drive home.’
‘The way back is a lot worse,’ Fionn pointed out.
‘I leave home in Schull around half eight in the morning, go to Cork and from there to Paris and I wait there for about six hours before getting a flight to Bordeaux. Door to door, I leave at 8.30am from Cork and get to the apartment in Bordeaux around 11pm. It’s a long day.
‘And if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that airport food doesn’t come cheap!’
But despite missing a lot of classes and falling behind in his exams, the third year UL student admits that he couldn’t miss out on Gabriels’ dream season that has seen them become champions of the South West and then Cork, and now they’re in a Munster semi-final.
‘It’s a dream come true for all of us,’ said Fionn, whose younger brother Cian is also in the Gabriels’ squad while his youngest brother Ronan is a talented prospect with Cork City’s U17s and U19s.
‘At the start of the year nobody could have predicted that we’d get this far, we had no manager at the start of February and by then usually we’d be well into training – but little did we know that we’d still be playing football in November.
‘I don’t want this to end at all.
‘Everyone is getting on so well and we’re playing some great football. There’s a great atmosphere in training, we’re all enjoying our football and everyone is flying it.
‘The team has matured, Mike O’Brien has played a massive part since he came in as manager, and Stephen O’Mahony has made a massive difference too – he’s a good motivator before games and he’s playing great stuff in midfield. He was out for a bit with a back injury and he’s a real driving force now.’
Fionn has been home six weekends for football and also for his 21st birthday on October 29th – another reason to celebrate.
With 300 air miles between Bordeaux and Paris, and a further 500 between Paris and Cork, that’s a round trip of 1,600 miles for every Gabriels game, and he will make that journey again this weekend.
All going well, Fionn will also be booking flights back home to West Cork for the Munster junior football final on December 4th.