Tompkins opens up on Seanie Johnston affair

Larry Tompkins says he is undecided whether Seanie Johnston’s transfer to Kildare was for valid reasons, saying it would be incomprehensible to him that someone would leave his home club just to play county football elsewhere.

Tompkins was involved in a high-profile case 25 years ago when he sought an inter-county transfer from his native Kildare to Cork to free him up to play for Castlehaven.

But Tompkins worked as well as lived in West Cork upon returning to Ireland from New York to play with Castlehaven, whereas there have been question marks about what connection Johnston, who still teaches in his native Cavan, has with Kildare beyond having a postal address in Straffan.

“For me the biggest move in all this was him leaving his club. It takes a lot to leave your buddies. You grow up in a place, you’re friends, go to school, work and live with those people; those are the best people in your life. There must have been a genuine reason that he left them to go play in Kildare. But if he left his club just to play football for another county he has no connection with, I cannot relate to that mentality and it (the transfer) shouldn’t have happened,” says Tompkins.

“We don’t know enough (about this case). People say he has no connection with Kildare, but how do we know he doesn’t? Maybe he’s going out with someone from Kildare. Maybe he wants to get a job in Kildare but right now there isn’t work in Kildare in his job. You’ll just have to gauge it over the next year or two and see what happens. If he has a valid connection with the place, there should be no one blocking the transfer and it was only right that it went through. But if he doesn’t…

“If his heart wasn’t in his own club in Cavan [Gaels] then I would have doubts about how genuine the transfer is. But again, we don’t know enough.”

In tomorrow’s Examiner Big Interview, Tompkins recalls how his own transfer came about, beginning with a dispute with the Kildare County Board that would see him return to New York where a couple of teammates persuaded him to come work and live in their home place of Castlehaven and help them win their first ever county championship. Weeks after leaving the metropolis of New York, he found himself working as carpenter building a house on Sherkin Island.

“It was supposed to be only for a few months. Playing for Cork never came into the equation. It had nothing to do with Cork. It was all about Castlehaven at the start and Castlehaven could have been in Carlow or Timbuktu.”

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