David Shanahan’s Dream Comes True With American Football Debut

David Shanahan pictured in mid May of last year after the news came through of his scholarship to the famous American Football college Georgia Tech – where his dreams came true on Saturday when he was on the starting line-up. ©Photograph: John Reidy
David Shanahan getting in some punting practice during lock-down at Desmonds GAA Club grounds at the end of last October. ©Photograph: John Reidy

It’s almost 18 months ago now that news broke about how Castleisland teenager, David Shanahan’s dreams of playing American football – in America – were edging ever closer to being realised.

A lot has happened since and the world is a very different place now.

Periods of lock-down and travel restrictions put David’s plans on hold a few times – just like everyone else.

Dark Days of Winter

Even so, he never lost sight of his dream of taking up that scholarship he had been awarded to Georgia Tech and the chance of a place on its team.

The dark days of winter took on a deeper shade of black due to the state of the country and the isolation of so many people from each other.

While we all waited for the gloom to lift, so did David Shanahan.

But he kept his eye and his foot and his keen sense of judgement in with long hours of kicking or punting practice in the fields around his home on College Road or at Desmonds GAA Club grounds on Limerick Road.

Debut on Saturday

He finally managed to get to America in early summer this year and, on Saturday, David made his college debut for Georgia Tech against Northern Illinois. 

Though his team lost by a couple of points it is being widely reported that his punting was mentioned by the team’s head coach in a press briefing after the game.

Remarkably, David never attended an American football game before Saturday’s deep-end encounter and to find himself on the starting line-up makes even more so.

Basketball and GAA Medals

The 20 year old College Road sportsman, a son of Jack and Eliza Shanahan, has a handful of All-Ireland basketball medals with the local Community Games teams and with his former school, St. Patrick’s.

He has two county football championship (GAA) medals at minor level and a Munster U-17 championship medal with the Kerry development squad from 2017.

David took a huge step towards realising his dreams when, at 18 years old, he moved to Melbourne at the end of August 2019 after passing a kicking test session with a scout in the UK and he loved it.

Light-Bulb Moment

“While researching it all, one day I came across Prokick Australia. I realised these were the guys that were sending all the Australians to American college football,” said David during the summer of 2020.

“We trained every day, in the gym and on the field so we were always really busy. It was an unbelievable experience. I really enjoyed every bit of it.

“Around the start of April the coaches told me they were hoping to send me to Georgia Tech and I was really excited at the prospect of that.

First Time in an American Football Stadium

Now, in September 2021, he has made the starting team on the first time he has ever put his foot inside an American Football stadium and the utterances from the head coach all paint a bright future for David as he lives his Goliath sized dreams.

We’re all going to have to learn the rules and subtleties of the game to properly follow his fortunes and to know how to give out to referees and umpires from now on.

Good luck to you David Shanahan.

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