The mass exodus caused by the economic collapse in Ireland in being felt all facets of Irish life, and sport is no exception.

The Gaelic Athletic association, which oversees Irish hurling and football, is by far the largest organization but their numbers are being hit hard by the economic downturn as players flee.

There are nearly 1,000 applications from players based in Ireland requesting to be transferred to clubs in England, the U.S., or Australia, and an estimated 250 players a month are leaving for elsewhere the Irish Times reports.

Surprisingly, a number are high profile GAA players, including Clare hurler Brian O’Connell, Louth All-Star nominee John O’Brien and Limerick footballers Pádraig Browne and Conor Ranahan are among the men on the move.

The GAA powerhouse of football in Munster, Kerry, is seeing a lot of its members trying to move to pastures with more employment opportunities.

“If I go solely on the paperwork, then we have had no more than 90 official transfer requests for 2010, which is relatively small in the overall scheme of things,” County chairman Peter Twiss told the Irish Times.

“Against that, Miltown Castlemaine won a Mid-Kerry final last year and three of their players left for London that evening.

“My big fear is how the picture is going to look at the end of this year. The reality is that most fellas leaving don’t transfer straight away.

“They go to wherever they are going, wait and see if it works out and then the transfer comes. So we may be dealing with a lot more transfers by the end of 2011, because I think this is going to be a much worse year.”

That scenario is being played out in counties like Donegal and Leitrim, where jobs don’t come easy, who are suffering the same issue.

Ireland’s loss is the ex-patriate clubs gains. One of the founders of Fulham Irish GAA club in London, John Doyle, has noted an increase in demand to join the club in recent times.

“We are noticing a big increase in terms of people looking to join the club. If I scroll back on my email, I have had 32 enquires from people coming over here since October. And we are just one club,” he told the Irish Times.

New York is also seeing an upsurge in young men trying to start playing football in the Bronx, and Australian clubs are also getting reinforcements from the Emerald Isle.