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John Curran, from Valentia, and Kevin Moran, from Reenard, Co Kerry, at the airport about to depart for London to look for work. John is the 14th member of his football team, The Young Islanders, to emigrate.

Emigration destroying rural Irish GAA teams say experts

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John Curran, from Valentia, and Kevin Moran, from Reenard, Co Kerry, at the airport about to depart for London to look for work. John is the 14th member of his football team, The Young Islanders, to emigrate.

The number of players forced to leave Ireland to find opportunity abroad has decimated one Gaelic football team in Valentia Island in County Kerry.

The Young Islanders senior football team there has now lost 14 members of its squad as they leave their homes and families to emigrate.

"It was like a wake at home this morning, but saying goodbye to your family is never nice," said John Curran, the latest man to leave club and family, according to the Irish Independent.

Curran left Valentia Island in search of construction work in London, but he went on to tell the Independent that if the situation improved in Ireland he would return.

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The South Kerry GAA Board had an ad hoc meeting to discuses the unprecedented levels of emigration that have depleted the organization in the Kingdom.

Young Islanders chairman John O’Sullivan has witnessed the exodus that has left his club in tatters.

"We've lost so many of our senior players that last year we were only barely fielding 15," he told the Independent.

The lack of work means that players have no choice but to go elsewhere to earn a living.

"It seems that every obstacle is put in the way of businesses that are trying to create employment," added O’Sullivan.

The problem is widespread across rural GAA clubs and Liam O'Neill, who will shortly take over the reins as GAA president, is hoping to make this a priority during his term in office.

"We're facing a player crisis that we've never faced before," he said. "Nobody ever envisaged we'd be in a situation like we are where places like south Kerry are short of players and I'm not sure if the organization understands the gravity of the situation."

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