Thing wasted on young
going with a return trip down under in the pipeline for 2019.
The achievements of former Donegal star Martin Shovlin in guiding his club, Naomh Ultan, to victory over Carndonagh in the Donegal Intermediate Championship recently reminded older players that participation at a high level is very possible if the work is put in. And 50-year-old Sean Furey also played for the winning club in that clash.
Their success is testament to their dedication. But in lower-league teams across the country, there are players working as hard in their own way to keep the flag flying. Fathers lining out alongside sons or, as in the case of the Barna Ladies football side in Galway, mothers alongside daughters.
As one veteran player tells me this week: “All the focus is on the young but what about older players who’ve spent a lifetime giving to the organisation? You know ‘youth’ might not be the only thing wasted on the young.
“The likes of Shovlin could retire happily and no one would begrudge him anything, but he does it for the love of the game and his club. A bit more support from the powers that be could go a long way in convincing men and women to keep playing.
“The GAA must be the only sporting organisation which has no structure for older players. It would be great if they could sort that out before we’re all playing on the great GAA pitch in the sky.”
Back in Carlow the sun descends in the sky as Johnny and Tommy wipe the sweat from their brow at the final whistle. Another victory in the bag. “I still have it,” says a beaming Tommy and you know something… he still does.
Pitch wisdom: Damien Tiernan at Gaultier GAA Club, Ballymabin, Dunmore East, Co Waterford.