Thing wasted on young

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - NOT JUST MAK­ING UP NUMBERS @Gra­hamJClif­ford

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.

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