How An Elite Athlete Is Changing Careers With Macleay College

We spent the day with Macleay Business Entrepreneurship student Dave McSharry.

Macleay Business Entrepreneurship student Dave McSharry is changing careers through college. After retiring from Irish professional rugby team Connacht due to injury, he swapped Dublin for Sydney to forge a new life. We spent the day with Dave to learn about his world.



A day in the life of Business Entrepreneurship student Dave McSharry.


The sea breeze is blowing specks of rain across Tamarama cliff tops. As winter beach-goers flee for cover, Dave McSharry kicks a ball around Marks Park. "It'd be like this all the time when we trained in Ireland," he says.


Born in Dublin, the retired athlete grew up playing Gaelic football. At 13, Dave started rugby with his secondary school side and was signed by Connacht at 21. Five years later, doctors advised him to step away from the game. "When I was 26, I got a bad concussion during a match," he says. "It’s quite daunting to quit a professional sport. I didn't have a degree or anything behind me."


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Dave McSharry with his friends and former colleagues at Connacht.


When concussion is not managed correctly, it can pose a risk to long-term health. This week, researchers uncovered the first evidence of Australian rugby league players with CTE, a degenerative brain condition commonly found in retired NFL athletes. The findings are a "wake-up call" for local sporting authorities, according to clinical associate professor Michael Buckland.


Walking away from the game is easier said than done. In 2015, an Australian study of ex-elite athletes found that 46.4% suffer from depression or anxiety disorders. For Dave, training at the gym is grounding. He says it's vital for sportspeople to have interests and skills outside the game because injuries can retire a player at any moment. "You can work hard and be a success at something completely away from rugby, that's why Macleay has been great."

"You can work hard and be a success"



Dave McSharry trains at Marks Park in Tamarama most mornings. 


Dave flew out to Sydney to get his mind off the game - and away from hordes of disappointed fans. The sea change has reoriented the former centre player, whose ambitions have turned to business. "I study Entrepreneurship at Macleay College," he explains. "The classes are small, and the personalised approach has been good for me."


"The classes are small and the personalised approach has been good for me"


Macleay's Pitch Day, where students present business ideas to real-word entrepreneurs, was enriching for Dave. "We practiced the pitch so much in class that by the time it came around I felt really comfortable," he says. "It was great to hear from graduates who've started their own business after Pitch Day, like Matt Rogers – whose start-up is called Hitch."


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Dave McSharry catches the train to Central to attend the Enterprise Innovation class at Macleay.

Dave is excited by his future prospects. "I'm not one hundred percent set on going back to Ireland, but no matter where I am – one of my passions is to start a company." he says. "Macleay gives you the tools to start a business. The integrated internship program has shown me how small businesses are run."

"Macleay gives you the tools to start a business"


The benefits of an intimate learning environment are on display when Dave attends Dr Gerard Reed's Enterprise Innovation class. During a discussion on sporting technology, the lecturer asks Dave about his experiences as an ex-elite athlete. "The current gear on the market does nothing to protect against concussion," Dave shares.



Dave values the small class sizes and personalised approach to learning at Macleay College.

After mingling with classmates after the lesson, Dave works on an assignment in the Student Zone.  He looks out the window onto leafy Foveaux Street, where traffic glimmers in the twilight. A student comes past to say hello, having forged a strong friendship with Dave on campus.  "I'm really happy with how things are going right now," Dave says. "I feel like I'm on the right track."


Why choose a Macleay College Business and Marketing Course?

  • At Macleay College we believe in real-world course content to ensure you're job ready.
  • Our course material and teaching method incorporates the latest industry practices and real world experience.
  • Our lecturers have industry experience and up-to-date knowledge.
  • Our small classes feature personalised teaching that nurtures your unique strengths.
  • We foster entrepreneurial thinking across all our Business & Marketing courses, with a focus on action and experiential learning. 


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