GAA club offers loyalty scheme to tackle emigration

A GAA club which lost a full adult team to emigration over the last 12 months has initiated a loyalty scheme to support local businesses.

Clooney/Quin GAA Club in Co Clare had three teams at senior, intermediate and junior levels.

But it has been forced to scrap the intermediate team as seven of its former senior team are now playing junior hurling in Australia.

Club chairman Sean Earls has appealed to everyone in the parish to support local businesses during the current recession to keep players in the club.

Incoming national GAA president Liam O’Neill has pledged to prioritise the issue of player emigration during his term.

Mr Earls hopes the GAA will initiate a new action plan at national level, to ensure their new president’s commitment is delivered on the ground in Clare.

The chairman recalled some players who were forced to emigrate couldn’t get work, while a number who had jobs found it difficult to get paid.

Social networking sites, he said, encouraged players to go abroad after seeing how well former colleagues were doing in new countries.

He admitted it would be hard to replace the ability of players the club has lost.

“The loss felt in teams is immediate, it may not be fully felt in the community for some time. At a recent conference on rural development, a quote that struck a chord with me which I feel aptly describes where the club is at this moment in time – ‘think globally but feel rooted in local’,” said Mr Earls.

A former chairman, Pat O’Brien, who emigrated to Australia, remains active in the club by organising a lotto online.

However, the club has lost 16 members to the US, New Zealand and Australia, Britain and Europe.

Pa Reynolds, Cathal Henchy, Johnny O’Sullivan, Nicky McCarthy, Ronan Gallagher, Kevin O’Looney, Eoin McNamara, Sean Conheady, Mark O’Halloran and John Vaughan all headed to Australia last year.

Others who decided to leave included Paul Clune went to New Zealand; Ruairi Henchy, to Germany; Kevin Molloy, to the US; and Ger Leamy to England.

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