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Recession set to take toll on Wee men

THE grim effects of the recession could have a devastating effect on the Louth football camp next year with four of their star players on the verge of emigrating.

John O'Brien, Michael Fanning, Brian White and Shane Lennon are all destined for Australia, prompting manager Peter Fitzpatrick to plead with potential employers to give his departing quartet a chance to stay in Ireland.

"It is a massive blow to us because they were four of our main players. Unfortunately we don't have any magic wands, we can't just come up with jobs, we wish we could," said Fitzpatrick, who is hoping -- against the odds, it would now appear -- to build on Louth's historic run to this year's Leinster final.

"Most of them are in around their mid-20s so they want to be working. Some of them have been getting a day here, a day there.

"That won't keep them going," the manager admitted.

"I asked the players straight out if anyone intended leaving and they were honest with me.

"I was very impressed with that, they were mature enough to put their hands up and admit they were planning on leaving.

"John O'Brien is going in December, Shane Lennon in October and Brian White and Michael Fanning in January."

Fitzpatrick explained that O'Brien (who did a brilliant man-marking job on Dublin's Bernard Brogan this summer) and White (their classy, free-taking midfielder) are both qualified plumbers. Centre-back Fanning is a qualified physiotherapist while Lennon, their talented target man, has got a degree in sports science.

"Four big men and four very important men. To be honest, you can't blame them for going," the Louth boss reflected.

"They've tried and tried and tried and it just isn't there. Maybe someone might come along and say 'I'll give that fella a job'."