The scourge of emigration is hitting GAA teams hard all across the country, but Monaghan fans and their manager are keeping their fingers crossed with regards to star forward Tommy Freeman.

The former all-star is due to leave for New York shortly after failing to find work at home, but boss Eamonn McEneaney is hoping his top player might change his mind before he’s due to go.

“You live in hope that something might change his mind, although I think he has made up his mind that he is going,” said McEneaney this week.

“Certainly, at this moment in time, it is a much better deal for Tommy than what he is getting here. From his point of view, he is going to be looked after, basically.

“There is very little work out there in Ireland. I know a lot of guys out there who have no work, no job, and it is very hard to blame them for doing anything.

“The future looks very bleak for an awful lot of kids and even boys who are in college that might be coming out that are promising footballers are going to have to look elsewhere.”

McEneaney may well be wasting his time praying for a Freeman u-turn, but he isn’t the only GAA manager in that boat at club or county level.

One manager suggested to me this week that clubs in rural Ireland will be forced to amalgamate before the scourge of emigration is lifted.

At county level Louth, for example, are trying desperately to get three players who emigrated to Australia back on board in time for the championship -- and two of them have subsequently moved on to Boston in the search for gainful employment.

Ireland Inc. is not a pretty sight at present, and the GAA is starting to pay the price at home. It really is time they did something about it.

Sideline Views

SOCCER: Sad to report the death of legendary RTE soccer commentator Phillip Greene at the ripe old age of 90. For those of us who grew up in the pre-satellite era, Phillip and his radio commentaries were our keys to the football world. Today’s kids, so used to blanket coverage on Sky and Setanta and their likes, won’t even know his name, but thankfully there are plenty of us of a certain age who will always remember Phillip Greene. I thank him for bringing the beautiful game into our lives.

GAA: A nice story at last from the world of John McAreavey, the husband whose wife Michaela was murdered on their honeymoon in Mauritius back in January. John has just been recalled to the Down football squad ahead of their All-Ireland championship bid, and there’s not a sports fan in Ireland who won’t wish him well. Mickey Harte’s son-in-law has been starring of late for his club side Tullylish and is back on merit with the beaten All-Ireland finalists according to those in the know.

SOCCER: West Ham were relegated from the Premier League on Sunday when Robbie Keane’s time with the club all but came to a swift end after his brief loan from Spurs. The Hammer signed the Irish captain to keep them up, so the fact he missed two glorious chances in his last two games won’t be of any consolation to their grieving fans. Let’s hope Keane has his scoring boots back on when he goes to Macedonia with the Irish team early next month.

RUGBY: Funny but apt comment from Leinster star Jamie Heaslip in an interview with the great RTE rugby man Michael Corcoran ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Cup final with Northampton in Cardiff. With several players doubtful for the decider, including the Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll, Heaslip had his own take on their likely availability. “You better be in a coffin because that’s the only way you are not putting your hand up for selection!’ he joked. And I half think he was serious.

SOCCER: Manchester United fans have been ringing radio stations this week and asking for the Paul Hardcastle song “19.” I’ll leave the soccer fans out there to work out why!


NEIL Lennon knows exactly what he goes through as Celtic manager after a season of torment on and off the field, yet he wants to carry on regardless. His declaration to stay on with the Bhoys, made on the pitch after Sunday’s win over Motherwell, is to be applauded. Let’s hope Dermot Desmond and his fellow board members take note and give Lennon the new deal he deserves.


THE TV and radio pundits queued up to denounce Donegal and their blanket defense against Antrim on Sunday and they had a point -- the opening game of the summer was pretty putrid in Ballybofey. But those who used the poor fare on offer to back their derision for this year’s championship are well wide of the mark and fairly idiotic if you ask me. You can’t judge an entire championship on the evidence presented by one bad game. Let’s wait at least a month before we make a real call on the current state of Gaelic football.