Young stars can't be blamed for spreading their wings
In the past week, we heard that two prominent county footballers would not be taking part in the national football league and possibly the 2009 championship because they had decided to spend a lengthy spell in Australia during the coming year.
Keith Higgins, an outstanding footballer and hurler with Mayo, has told manager John O'Mahony he will not be back in Ireland until around June at the earliest. Fermanagh player Michael Murphy is already gone to Australia and will be there, according to present plans, for the rest of 2009. There is also word that 2008 Longford player of the year Declan Reilly may be taking a long sabbatical this year.
The departure of star players just as the new NFL campaign is about to start is a major trend among GAA players in recent years, many of whom take long breaks, often a year or more, away from the stresses and strains of inter-county action. Dozens of county players and hundreds of club players have followed the same route. At times like these, the players must be very happy that they are still amateurs. Were they anything less, they would not have the freedom to travel the world while their counties were striving for provincial or national success.