Colm Cavanagh: Time and distance can't diminish the sense of belonging you have to your club

For me, club comes first, it always has and it always will. As frustrating as it can be at times, and through all periods of transition and lows, it doesn’t matter,
For me, club comes first, it always has and it always will. As frustrating as it can be at times, and through all periods of transition and lows, it doesn’t matter,

HOW much does your club mean to you? How easy is it to switch allegiance to a new club, and how much does your heart follow your heads decision to do so?

There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about Shane Walsh’s request to move from his home club in Galway to Kilmacud Crokes in order to suit his education and career.

I get it, I can see his reasoning for the decision. Travelling hours to a training session to be part of a group of lads who you know inside out versus taking part in a training session down the road doing exactly the same drills or skills that the lads are doing hours away - it’s a no brainer.

After a day of study or work, you are mentally tired. It's irrelevant if you are driving or are a passenger, travel is tiring. Sitting in a car for more then two hours is far from ideal preparation for a training session and then to be able to psyche yourself up to give a session your all, eat something and the turn around and travel back for another few hours ‘home’ is just draining to even consider never mind carry it out three times a week.

That all said, do I agree with the decision? No, I can’t say that I do. I just can’t understand how you can be brought up in a club, play all through your youth with friends, family and your community, and then decide 'this doesn’t suit me, this isn’t worth the commitment'. It just seems like a complete kick in the teeth to all the lads you’ve played with. Clubs are difficult at the best of times. There are lots of personalities and family connections, but at the end of the day everyone wants the best for the club, everyone that pulls on their club jersey has a connection to the club and a sense of pride in the crest on their chest.

For a player to be able to just arrive into a new set-up, especially someone with the talent of Shane Walsh, they are more than likely displacing a current starting player from their position, and playing with the same sense of pride in the jersey doesn’t seem possible to me.

The lad who is dropped to allow the newcomer to take their position will undoubtedly have a sense of frustration. Regardless of how much value he adds to the club, he can’t win matches on his own, he will need the rest of the players to play alongside him and accept him onto the team. Now I know there are a lot of lads who would happily sit on the subs bench and allow someone like Shane Walsh to come in and dictate the play just to see the club succeed, but there is bound to be the feeling in the bottom of their gut saying “but he isn’t even from here, it’s not his club”.

There is also a lot of speculation in the media currently about Cristiano Ronaldo and his future with Manchester United. After their victory on Monday night over Liverpool (I couldn’t let the opportunity go by without mentioning it) playing their best football when he wasn’t on the pitch, I fear that we will be bidding him adieu before the end of September.

Manchester United is considered the club where Ronaldo became the superstar that he is. With Alex Ferguson as his mentor he grew up in a Man Utd jersey and cemented himself as one of the best whilst there. It is clear that Man Utd is a very special club to Ronaldo but soccer is very different to GAA and he will be quickly transferred somewhere else to play out the twilight years of his career outside of the Premier League. I don’t think it will change his love for the club and the allegiance he feels to Man Utd but in soccer it is more of a business transaction than a move out of necessity as it would be in GAA.

It is different for soccer supporters though, Liverpool fans won’t become Man Utd fans overnight just because of one result or a bad run of form, Chelsea and Arsenal fans remain loyal to their club regardless of their position in the league. That is how it is for both supporters and players in GAA. We are born into a club, we grow up in that club and that club will always remain special to us no matter where we end up in life.

I know there are many Irish in America and Australia who, no matter how long they are away from home, will always say “I’m from the Moy but I’m living here x number of years.”

To me that sums it all up, I’m sure if anyone asks Shane Walsh the response will be similar - "I’m from Kilkerrin but I’m playing in Dublin for now." The sense of belonging doesn’t change no matter how far away we go or how long we are away and that is something that should be cherished.

For me, club comes first, it always has and it always will. As frustrating as it can be at times, and through all periods of transition and lows, it doesn’t matter, there are always better days to come and the best days to reminisce on. In the infamous words of Ryan Kelly “It’s a Moy man I’ll always be…”