Jamie Dornan stand-ins and clearing out the hurls – catching up with Shane McNaughton

Shane McNaughton
Shane McNaughton (left) is the son of Antrim legend Terence

From Cushendall to Broadway, Shane McNaughton has walked a path rarely taken in recent years.

It wasn't long ago that McNaughton was following in the footsteps of his father, Antrim hurling giant 'Sambo', lining out on Croke Park with a hurl in his hand.

However, while hurling was a passion from a young age, McNaughton was determined to follow a different dream.

Swapping sliotars for scripts, McNaughton decided to give acting a crack.

And so, with the pain from Ruairi Og's All-Ireland Club SHC final defeat by Na Piarsaigh in 2016 still raw, the forward hopped on a plane and headed for New York City.

McNaughton didn't just wash up anywhere in the Big Apple either; he was enrolled in the prestigious Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

Having walked in the symbolic shadows of GAA giants in Croke, McNaughton found himself wandering the hallowed grounds of an institution that counts Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro among its celebrated alumni.

"Yeah, I mean the school is really good," McNaughton modestly told Sportsound Extra Time.

"I was very excited when I got into it. I kind of think all schools are…it's a lot to do with the student.

"I think you'll learn wherever you go if you're in it for the right reasons.

"Just being in New York is a learning experience in itself. It's a great place to be in and learn and I suppose it toughens you in ways that other cities wouldn't, you know."

Debut with Dornan

McNaughton's budding acting career started much closer to home, as a stand-in for Jamie Dornan on The Fall, the BBC drama shot in Belfast.

"That was my first ever acting job surprisingly," recalls McNaughton.

"Whenever Jamie didn't have to be in the shot, whenever they were setting up shots - which I knew nothing about at that time, I just come on very oblivious to the whole thing - I went and stood.

"I was the same kind of size as him and same hair and what not."

Shane McNaughton and Jamie Dornan
McNaughton was a stand-in for Jamie Dornan on BBC drama The Fall

McNaughton's acting career has come a long way since then. Now, with Broadway experience under his belt, he has no intention of walking away from his dream.

"I'm not long finished school in New York," said the 32-year-old.

"I've never really had the opportunity to work there and I've got a manager and an agent in New York now and a green card on the way so I'm going to take myself to New York and see how that goes for a few years I guess."

And while he is excited by the prospect of returning to New York, he has made the most of his time back home in Cushendall.

McNaughton has been kept busy during lockdown with an assortment of odd-jobs around the house and bar owned by his father.

One of those jobs happened to be clearing out all of his old hurls. All 83 of them.

Having lined them up outside the house, McNaughton posted a photo on Twitter offering them to any passer-by who wanted one.

The post prompted a huge response, with over 6,000 likes at the time of writing.

"A lot of people get in touch," the six-time Ulster winner said.

"People from Canada and America wanting hurling sticks. Even people from down south were looking them posted. It got a bit out of hand for a while.

Before he knew it, they were gone.

Well, all but one; the one he will cherish forever, the one given to him by a certain hurling legend, or so he claimed.

"Well, that was a joke as well.

"I put the thing up as a joke to the people around Cushendall to come and get them and didn't think it would go so far. Henry Shefflin got back to me.

"I'd said I was keeping that because I sleep with it, but he got in touch and he's going to send me one too and he actually is one of my sporting heroes, so it worked out very well for me."

That is called playing a blinder.

McNaughton is sure to be the envy of the acting world. De Niro may have two Oscars, but he surely doesn't have a signed hurl from 'King Henry'.

Top Stories

Also in NI Sport