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I'm bored silly but retiring early was a no-brainer, says Spillane

PAT Spillane is, he admits, "bored silly".

The outspoken GAA pundit should be facing into his 112km round trip commute to work on Monday but, like around 1,000 other teachers, he has opted to retire early.

The eight-time All-Ireland medal winner only turned 56 in December and stepped down as principal of St Goban's College in Bantry, Co Cork, where he had been on the staff since 1979.

He said yesterday he only opted to retire to secure his pension entitlements under the Croke Park Agreement but is struggling to adapt to his new reality.

"I absolutely hate it," he told the Irish Independent, "but it was a no brainer, with the Croke Park Agreement, to be gone before February.

"But what's happened is the best and most experienced teachers are all gone, which means it's going to be a struggle in lots of schools where these teachers won't be replaced with the same calibre.

"Croke Park was a great agreement for the unions but in return the Government got very little. It's wrong and I think it's going to have to be addressed."

He said the majority of teachers who've opted to retire early did so for financial security reasons. He said these people still had an awful lot to offer but are now consigned to the scrapheap.

"Did I want to go? No I didn't," he said.

"I was teaching for 35 years and I loved it. I found teaching very rewarding. It kept me young and it kept me disciplined. If kids did well and passed their exams there was a satisfaction in it."

Now he said there is a "groundhog feeling" about every day and although he's kept going with his newspaper column and his role as GAA pundit on RTE, he needs something to get stuck into for the other nine months of the year.

He has ruled out running for politics, going back to the family pub in Templenoe or even training the Kerry football team as options. He also revealed he had offers from GAA clubs to train teams but he has been coaching for 35 years and wants a new challenge.

"I'd love to get involved with rural affairs, in a sort of national crusade," he revealed.

"The thing about it is that there are so many concerns.

"Whether it's the closing of a rural hospital or a garda station or national school or the lack of employment, there's no umbrella body to bring them all together."

Irish Independent