GAA Football

Prospect of no game-time with club or county forced Marc Reid's decision to leave Down set-up

Marc Reid left the Down panel after the National League, citing his exclusion from club action because of the starred game system as a key factor in his decision. Picture by Seamus Loughran

DOWN goalkeeper Marc Reid said the thought of spending the summer not being allowed to play for his club while sitting on the bench for the county was behind his decision to leave the panel.

The 23-year-old Bryansford man was first choice last year but with St Mary’s reaching a Sigerson Cup final this year, he was held back from duty in the early part of the league.

Rory Burns’ good form, which included two penalty saves, coincided and as a result, Reid couldn’t force his way back in for any game time in the league.

With starred games without county players set to kick in at club level over the next few weeks, Reid would not have been allowed to play in those ties for Bryansford as a member of the county panel, yet was unlikely to force his way into the number one shirt before Down host rivals Armagh on May 19.

Reid said that the lack of game time meant that as much as he loves playing for Down, not actually playing had left him a decision to make.

“Bubba [Rory Burns] was going very well, he’s saved two penalties which kept Down going. I was maybe expecting a chance but I couldn’t complain too much.

“When you’re not playing football you stop enjoying it. Training three or four times a week, not getting a game at the weekend.

“The way I looked at it is I’m not going to be number one, two weeks from now the starred games come into it, so I’m not able to play for Bryansford.

“So I’d be training five, six times a week between the two of them and I’m not getting any football whatsoever. I had no choice.

“Everyone wants to play for Down, and don’t get me wrong I love playing for Down. But for one summer, I’m thinking about myself and what I want to do instead of trying to keep other people happy.”

Heading into his last few weeks as a student Business Studies teacher, the prospect of four finals exams in six days either side of the Armagh game were a major consideration as well.

“My first exam is the Thursday before the Armagh game and then I’ve three the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday after it.

“I had a chat with my Dad and he was saying Down are going to be there for the next five or six years, but I need to get a good job for the next 40 years. This is the crucial part that will define what I’ll be working as.”

Reid was down in Cork earlier this week to pick up a Rising Star award for his performances for St Mary’s this spring, and enjoyed a couple of pints of Guinness as the likes of his team-mate, Derry forward, Shane McGuigan sat tight a month out from championship.

“I remember reading about Chelsea last year, and after every game [Antonio] Conte would have let them have a beer. It’s like a reward to yourself.

“I work in Quinn’s in Newcastle, I’d be chatting to [former Down star] Ciaran McCabe and he’d say they went out after every game and enjoyed themselves.

“Big victories don’t come around often, it’s important to enjoy yourself. At the club, if you have a good win, the boys will go and have a few pints and enjoy it.

“Literally, after a county game, you get a bit of food and head home. It’s understandable in a way, if you slip up in the league once – as Down found out – you’re not going to get promoted.”

Reid says he would jump at the chance to return if he was offered a trial for the 2020 season but that he had to make the decision for his own good.

“I just want one summer to myself. All the boys I hang around with, being able to do stuff with them. It’s the massive demand put on inter-county players. Drink bans for instance, you get put on around now and you mightn’t get a pint until God knows how far away.

“If I want to pack up my bags in a month’s time and go away for a bit, I can do it. It’s in the back of my head. This time next year, I’ll hopefully be in a full-time job or at least be working a good bit of the time, which will stop that freedom.”

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