Although an exact percentage has not been established, in the region of 20% of the footballers who will represent Kilmurry-Ibrickane and Kilkee will have no job to go to next week, once the 2009 county final has been played. In fact, Kilmurry club chairman Gerard Talty told The Clare Champion that up to one in three of the Kilmurry panel are unemployed, while Kilkee club chairman Donal Hayes feels that many Kilkee players who work in the construction industry may emigrate once the football season concludes.
“There’s about nine or 10 of the lads that are out of work completely or doing an odd day here and there,” Talty confirmed.
“It is definitely a factor that people in the area would be saying they’re staying around because of the football. But they’re looking at Australia, America, they’re looking at different things which would decimate our club. Even though we have a good numbers, take the amount of people who are unemployed at the moment, if we were to lose half of them, the team would be fall apart,” the Kilmurry chairman said.
Talty believes that the county board, the county enterprise board and community groups have a role to play in helping to deal with the employment crisis.
“Once the lads are staying around and are playing, it’s not much of a talking point until they start going and then I suppose at that stage, it’s probably too late. But I think maybe at county board level or at community level, we’re going to have to look at how these people will have to be facilitated and keep them around. If you lose them for the club, you’ve also lost them for the county.
“I think some action has to be taken, even though it has to be two-tiered. There has to be something through the County Development Plan or the enterprise board to come up with some short-term solution. Maybe get people into training to try and pursue different careers,” he suggested, adding that the club had lost several players to emigration in the 1980s.
While Kilmurry would be affected if they lost players, smaller clubs would be even harder hit. “You have clubs where they have the 16 or 17 lads and they haven’t a whole lot coming through. If they were to lose something there, it would look like they’d have to examine other options,” Talty added.
The Kilkee chairman said that many of his club’s players are still in Ireland purely because they are playing football, but that may change.
“To be honest it (emigration) hasn’t really affected Kilkee at the moment because we’re still involved in championship, so everybody is staying around.
“But there has been talk of people emigrating. When the football season is over, what’s there for these guys? A lot of them are involved in construction and there’s nothing out there for them at the moment. All you see around Kilkee is half-finished sites and there’s no new projects starting,” he explained.
Hayes suggests that the GAA network should work harder to help unemployed players secure work.
“The GAA is around for 125 years. There has to be a social network there somewhere that can and should be tapped into. It probably should have been tapped into a long time ago to look after players and to make sure that they’re being given the right encouragement to stay at home and play for their club. Soccer has been doing it for years, rugby has been doing it for years.”