IT is the democratic right of individuals or groups to respond to articles written in the press, let it be praise or criticism, and the Slane GFC Executive Committee are quite entitled to make their feelings known regarding my column in the Drogheda Independent following the relegation of the clubs adult team to junior B status.
However I need to set the record straight in relation to a number of issues contained in their letter.
First of all I find it bizarre that Slane GFC should claim that my article was both derogatory and demeaning to the club.
It was my intention in penning the piece that I would be as sensitive as possible towards the club and not be seen to be rubbing salt into wounds. Hence I highlighted successes the club had at underage level in 2012 and did point out that the future was bright despite this setback.
I ended the piece with a final paragraph stating - Despite the low point that they reached last Sunday there is some light at the end of the tunnel for Slane. They have some excellent underage players. Most are too young to make an impression at adult level yet, but in time they should help get the club back on a much more solid footing.
Those were hardly degrading or demeaning comments as the executive of the club claim and I also highlighted the fact that former Meath All-Ireland star Mattie McCabe had agreed to take over as manager for the coming year, another boost for the club.
I would also like to inform the club that I wasn't guessing when I claimed that retirement and emigration were part of the reason why their fortunes have gone downhill. They themselves agree with that assertion in the letter, but are apparently not happy with me stating it.
And while some journalists in other newspapers, provincial and national, might pen columns off the top of the head I can assure readers that this is not or was not the case with myself. Indeed my column on the Slane topic was not written in the immediate aftermath of their relegation final defeat to Moylagh, but instead a week later and I had plenty of time to think about it.
They also claim that I did not research the subject to any great detail. I didn't need to because I had all the facts at my fingertips and am well aware of all the good work that is going on in the club at present.
The executive committee is correct in pointing out that I have always lived in Slane parish but completely wrong in stating that I played all my football with Rathkenny. If they had researched their facts they might have realised that I played with Slane at juvenile level. However the club made absolutely no effort to 'hold on' to me and as I was entitled to play with a club of my choice after that, I chose Rathkenny.
My reasons were that I lived much closer to the pitch in Rathkenny and it was easier to cycle there than into Slane, while most of my friends also played with Rathkenny. Also, a number of my relations had given long service to the club.
What is laughable about the response from the Slane executive is the claim that the club would have no trouble fielding an adult team in 2012 or avoiding the drop to Junior B if all gaelic footballers who lived in Slane played football with Slane as opposed to Rathkenny.
Well, I must point out that other guys living in Slane parish but playing with Rathkenny did so with the blessing of the Slane club. Rathkenny was not the only benefactor of Slane's generosity over the years - wasn't the club well represented when Mattock Rangers played in the Leinster Club final in 2002?
A number of families who aligned themselves to Rathkenny got either transfers or exemptions from the Slane club which makes nonsense of the 'best efforts' claims in the letter.
It is also worth pointing out that all the players didn't come from one area of the parish. Those who did never played for Slane at any time and came up through the ranks from underage level and attended national school in Rathkenny parish.
Others sought transfers - something which happens between players and clubs every year - and were granted them even though they had to travel through the village to get to Rathkenny's pitch.
It is pointless crying about all the players that slipped through the net when the club made no great effort to hold on to them.
It is my opinion that it's Slane GFC who should face up to the elephant in the room. A number of years ago they relocated the club grounds to one end of the parish, out in Rossin. It left the kids of the village with only one place to kick a ball and that was the soccer pitch which is in the heart of the village.
If you have a tennis court nearby you will play tennis, a cricket ground and you will play cricket, a soccer pitch and you will play soccer. The parish of Slane can field three adult soccer teams at present, and yet the gaelic club was unable to field one team for some of their league and championship matches during 2012.
What is also alarming is that they were also forced to give a walkover at Under-21 level despite being joined with neighbours St Mary's.
I do not dispute that Slane GFC have one of the highest number of registered members in the county - however there is little point in having a big membership if you are unable to field teams.
I commend the work that has been going on at underage level and other areas of the club over the last seven or eight years and like most gaels in the county I wish Slane a speedy return up the footballing ladder.
The community of Slane need a successful gaelic club and it will be of great benefit to the county as well. Hopefully we won't have long to wait for Slane to be again represented on Meath underage teams.