Emigration eats at GAA heart
THE crippling effects of the recession were highlighted last weekend when a Mayo GAA club circulated a picture on social media sites of a team made up entirely of players who have emigrated.
Kilmovee Shamrocks have been so devastated by emigration over the past number of years that they can now name a starting 15 of players living abroad.
"We have lost a fair few more in reality, it's been very difficult," said club secretary Donal Kelly.
The team was put together to show their latest emigrant, Michael Caulfield, that he is not on his own abroad.
In all, 20 players are unavailable to the club because of emigration and these young men have ended up as far afield as The United Arab Emirates, Cyprus, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
In 2007, Kilmovee Shamrocks were crowned Division F league champions. Of the 25 men who lined out for the team photo on the day of the final, only 11 are still playing because of emigration and retirees.
Club chairman John Roddy said player losses had finally taken their toll. "We haven't won a game all year yet. There are clubs all over Mayo encountering the same problems. We can't go asking lads to stick around and put their lives on hold just for football."
James Moran (22) is one of their biggest losses. In 2011 he captained the club's junior team, their flagship adult side, in their league and championship campaigns at the tender age of 20.
"Leaving was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done," said James, who has a degree in quantity surveying from Sligo IT.
"After leaving college there were very few options available to me. I'm very happy in Abu Dhabi. I really have no plans to return to Ireland full time at the moment," he added.