GAA 'must take lead on jobs'
On the day Monaghan confirmed they were losing All Star forward Tommy Freeman to emigration, former Down All-Ireland winner Conor Deegan yesterday called on Croke Park to do "everything humanly possible" to keep the top players at home.
Freeman, a carpenter by trade, has been a leading light for Monaghan for more than a decade, but the 30-year-old has found work hard to come by and Farney boss Eamonn McEneaney yesterday confirmed that the player is going to America.
The departure of the classy sharpshooter is a huge blow to Monaghan. Freeman has played for Ireland in the International Rules series against Australia and won a Division 2 league title in 2005, when he helped himself to 2-3 against Meath in the final.
McEneaney has lost all hope of seeing his talisman in championship action this summer and feels it's time for Croke Park top brass to take a proactive approach on the jobs front.
"It is something that the GAA need to look at and see can they improve the association by putting in more coaches that are inter-county players, which might keep them at home. It might work in our favour to help people out like that," said McEneaney.
"Probably the funding is not there at the moment to do it within Monaghan, but it is certainly something that could be looked at on a national basis, where all counties could in some way receive funds for the coaching end of things that would help keep the likes of Tommy in a job and keep the likes of him at home.
With several other counties losing big names to emigration, Deegan went a step further by suggesting GAA players should get "preferential treatment" when it comes to securing employment, on the basis of the entertainment they provide to so many people.
"Players should get looked after, and jobs-wise they should get preferential treatment. They put bums on seats in magnificent stadiums," said Deegan at the launch of Newstalk's GAA championship coverage.
"I know other people would have a problem with that. But I wouldn't -- I played, I know what it's like and what they have to do."