What would you rather, a chance to play in the Champions League, or compete for an All-Ireland with your county?
Pádraic Cunningham tells people he's chasing a dream to kick a ball. It has been that way since he was a child. After a childhood spent playing Gaelic football and soccer in Headford, his local League of Ireland soccer club gave him that chance and for the last three years, the 21-year-old has played with Galway United.
Last year the Tribesmen were the unfortunate victims of new mass-restructuring as a quarter of teams in the league were relegated. On the last day of the season, Galway United went down, losing 4-3 at home against Dundalk.
Regelation, for me, was horrible. Nothing as bad as I’ve experienced. It was tough, it was such a tight and amazing group of lads and management. It was very unfortunate but sadly that’s the way it was with 3 going down.
Cunningham went home to Headford, where he played Gaelic football in the Under-21 North Galway Championship. His form there quickly saw him fast-tracked into the Galway senior football squad.
Galway boss Kevin Walsh has utilised the FBD league to blood some young talent after the retirements of Finian Hanley, Michael Meehan, and Gary Sice. Cunningham represents a new era of talented footballers within the county.
He came on against Sligo in the FBD league opener and remains involved while he weighs up his options.
It’s unreal to be back (playing) and involved in the Football teams. Playing and training with the best of players in the county has helped me develop and learn more skills.
It’s been a pleasure and everyone in the squad has been so welcoming! Playing with my local club Headford again has been great and it’s great to be in a U21 final with them. Hopefully, it goes well.
Cork City boss John Caulfield is currently bolstering his double-winning squad and wants Cunningham to be a part of that. He already has Karl Sheppard and has added Graham Cummins and Josh O’Hanlon to his strikeforce. A young, pacey forward with Premier Division experience could be an astute addition for the Champions.
The young Galway striker is thrilled there is still an opportunity to play in the Airtricity League.
Yeah, the choice now has helped my general confidence. It’s brilliant to have these things for myself, at a personal level.
For Cunningham, the future remains an unknown. He's just glad that for now, he has the opportunity to kick a ball.