ONE would think listening to and reading much of the printed comment that Seanie Johnston is the first player in the history of the GAA to move from one county to another, regardless of the circumstances, writes Tommy Callaghan.
Players as far back as the 1900s changed counties, with it seems, little or no fuss or bother. God knows few counties have suffered, and to be fair benefited, more than Kildare with players coming and departing, and all in their own way made their presence felt whether wearing the white of Kildare, the red of Cork, the blue of Dublin, yes Dublin if you don’t mind, to name just a few.
But for some reason in this particular case when a player is not wanted by his native county and attempts to move in order to play inter-county football all hell seems to break out. Croke Park gets into a sweat, and do everything that is humanly possible to prevent it.
And while acknowledging the fact that there are divided opinions on Johnston’s imminent arrival here, nevertheless the question has to be posed just why has he, Johonston, been put through the mill in his quest to play county football with Kildare?
Why has Croke Park been hell bent on preventing a man who is not wanted by his native county, from playing with another county in which he is now resident?
It is a well know fact that pressure has been brought to bear on both Cavan Gaels and Cavan County Board to do what they could to prevent Johnston getting a move and while neither formally objected they did make it clear that the had ‘concerns’ regarding the player’s permanent residency in Kildare.
Fair enough but despite Johnston providing every scrap of evidence that he was asked to provide and indeed providing some that he was not even asked for (with the help and assistance of well known Newbridge based solicitor Conor O’Toole), the folk on the CCCC still refused to budge.
It has been suggested that if Johnston was granted his move that it would trigger a spate of such transfers.
What upper rubbish.
Similar concerns were aired regarding young lads heading to Australia.
The floodgates will open and open wide we were told. Nothing of that nature has occurred and nothing of that nature will occur.
And the same can be said regarding the Johnston transfer. There has been and their will, in the future, be inter-county transfers but the number of such transfers is so few it is not something that should overly exercise the powers-that-be.
What should bother folk out there though is the lengths that Croke Park is willing to go to prevent such moves. That is very disturbing.
Asking a player to provide pay slips; asking a player to provide his P60, asking a player to provide his PPS number, as happened in the Johnston case, is simply incredible, unnecessary and is surely bordering on a violation of one’s rights.
Now of course, due to a new rule brought in at Congress earlier this year (specifically to put another stumbling block in Johnston’s path) the player, we are told must play ‘championship’ with his new club prior to lining out with the county.
However Seanie Johnston’s transfer forms were lodged in Croke Park prior to Congress but according to Croke Park the new rule is retrospective. However, Rule 3.43 of the Official Guide states that when Congress passes a new rule it cannot be retrospective and in fact cannot come into force for a full 28 days from the day of Contress. It is there in black and white, Rule 3.43 (h).
Whether Seanie Johnston ever makes the Kildare team we will have to wait and see but if he can show the same determination and the same commitment to Kildare as he has shown in his pursuit to get his transfer he should be a great addition to the county.
While Cavan, and Cavan Gaels bear a major loss (seemingly of their own making) in this entire saga the real loser in many people’s opinion is Croke Park.
The sheer vindictiveness in their pursuit of attempting to deny a talented footballer an opportunity to play the game, despite fulfilling all the necessary criteria, is simply wrong, shameful and totally out of order!