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'I just wasn't enjoying it' - Austin Gleeson opens up on inter-county sabbatical

On Sunday, Waterford played their first home league game in Walsh Park following its long-awaited makeover but without one very high profile absentee.

Not alone was Austin Gleeson not on the pitch against Clare last weekend, he wasn't even in the stadium. Indeed, he couldn't even switch on the TV for the first few minutes.

"To be honest, I had a ticket," Gleeson told RTÉ Sport on Tuesday.

"And I'd say about an hour before the game it really hit home (that I wasn't involved). And I ended up not going.

"I actually didn't even watch the first few minutes of the game. It had more of an effect than I thought it was going to have on me. I was only talking to my father after the game and he said it probably made a bit of sense that you were like that.

"Once I settled down and I was checking the scores on Twitter, I said I should be watching it. I ended up turning it on then."

The 2016 Hurler of the Year announced in late September last that he was taking a year out from hurling in 2024, citing a lack of "drive" and saying he needed a break from the inter-county game to re-energise.

It was a decision he'd been mulling over since the 2022 championship.

He was originally intent on taking a break last year, but after a chat with incoming manager Davy Fitzgerald and a number of team-mates, he decided to u-turn and reported for training in December 2022 for the 2023 campaign.

"Being completely honest, it was halfway through the (2022) Munster championship that I was thinking about it. It was after the championship that I made the full decision.

"I found myself very down constantly. I was actually going to do it last year (step away).

"We played Clare in the last game up in Clare in the last round of the round robin. I knew coming into the