Despite being elected as a TD in February, Donnchadh Ó Laoighaire doesn’t get special treatment on the hurling pitch, writes David Linnane.
Still togging out for St Finbarr’s Junior B team, Mr Ó Laoighaire, Sinn Féin, played in their semi-final against White Church, in Ballinlough, on Friday night.
His fellow players still treat him as one of the lads.
“There certainly isn’t any extra respect. They are the same as ever, all the same slagging and messing going on, although I’ve had a few political digs thrown at me,” he said.
Despite the up-close-and-personal nature of the sport, he said that opposing players rarely realise that they are knocking heads with their local TD, but he has had a few strange looks after the games.
“It’s Junior B, so people wouldn’t always know who they are playing against or marking, but when the helmet comes off and I’m walking off at the end of the game, you’ll get people staring for a few seconds trying to figure it out,” he said.
As far as he knows, he is the only TD still playing competitively and he plans to continue for as long as his job and his body allow.
“The job comes first, there is no question of that, but I’ll play for as long as I can,” he said.
Mid-week training can be difficult to make when you’re working in Dublin, and he has to miss a game here and there. He is always on the club’s text list, but has to send his apologies every now and then. Few people can boast the same excuses that he has, however.
“I had to miss one game, because I was up for ministers’ questions with the Minister for Youth and Children,” he said.
The summer recess has made things a bit easier, allowing the TD to compete and train during the last few weeks.
But he still manages to make most weekend training sessions, and every game that he can during the Dáil term. As well as keeping him physically active and social, it’s a good way for him to keep in touch with the local community.
“Usually, I get out on a Sunday morning. It’s not easy, but it’s a good way of keeping up with the club,” he said.
This story first appeared in the Evening Echo.