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Seanie Johnston Reveals Major Consequences Kildare Transfer Backlash Had On His Personal Life

Seanie Johnston Reveals Major Consequences Kildare Transfer Backlash Had On His Personal Life
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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Transfer within the GAA always tend to be somewhat controversial. The very backbone of the Association is the idea that players are joined to their club and county for life, representing their local community with pride.

Of course, things don't always work out that. Club transfers are fairly common, especially as people move around the country and might not have the ability to return home on a regular basis.

Inter-county moves are much rarer, with one switch in particular often considered the standard-bearer in terms of the attention it received.

Seanie Johnston's tranfer from Cavan to Kildare in 2012 was a huge deal at the time.

While the player had been dropped buy his native county, the way in which the move to the Leinster side happened rubbed people up the wrong way. Johnston had few links to his new side, having to play for club Coill Dubh in a championship hurling match in order to push the transfer through.

It caused a huge media storm at the time, especially when Kildare drew his native county in the qualifiers later that summer.

The forward would play two season with Kieran McGeeney's side, eventually returning to the Cavan panel in 2016. However, he has rarely publicly discussed the effects that move had on his personal life.


Seanie Johnston opens up on effects of Kildare move

Over a decade on from the initial move, Seanie Johnston has now opened up on the challenges he faced around that time.


During a brilliant episode of The GAA Social, he goes into depth on everything that that the transfer involved. He discusses the reasoning behind it, how it went through, and the effects it had on his life.

Even with the time that has passed, it is clear that Johnston is still affected by the backlash he received during this period. Recalling how it affected his personal life, he said the situation had a severe impact on him mentally. That included a sense of paranoia and falling into a short gambling addiction.


I used to walk into shops (in Cavan town). I'm a teacher, so if one of our kids said something, I could have a go at them and give them detention.

You'd walk into a shop then and there are other schools around the town and you could get a comment here or there. You see people in the corner having their daily conversations and they're laughing, I'm thinking 'they're laughing at me'.

I was very self-conscious, very paranoid for a long period of time. You do the male Irish thing where you just say 'I'm grand'...

I wasn't okay.

It probably brought me on a course of doing things that I shouldn't be doing. Gambling was one, to be honest. When I was gambling, I wasn't thinking of the transfer.

It all started when I was in a friend's house and he said 'we'll put €15 into an account and play blackjack'. That's all it was. I lost, then I put €30 in.

Out of nowhere, within a couple of weeks, I was sitting in the house at 2:30 with €200 on Gael Monfils to beat Viktor Troicki in a tennis match in a double with Vasco de Gama to beat a Brazilian soccer team. I was going 'I'm in a bit of a hole here'...

I was playing blackjack for crazy amounts of money. It was €200 per hand...

I can't say (the transfer) is the only reason I did it, but at that time in my head, I was trying to forget stuff. It was giving me an unbelievable buzz. I was doing it in places like work, going out to the car...

The only person that knows about that, and my parent's don't even know, is my wife.

Seanie Johnston would soon drag himself out of the rut that he had fallen into, although there were other difficult experiences along the way.

That was especially true after Kildare were drawn against Cavan in the qualifiers, with the media attention around him increasing a massive degree.


In the buildup to that game in 2012, his parents opted to leave the country due to the way they were hounded by the media and others. The player himself was also followed in his daily life, including while playing in a fundraising event for his local club.

I was absolutely hating it, I couldn't describe to you how much I was hating it...

It was tough. The regret is around my family and how difficult it was for them. My parents would have left the country before that match (against Cavan).

There was reporters outside the house, people following me on the road from my house in Kildare on the way to work. It was just manic...

The low points were Mam and Dad having to leave the country, that wasn't easy. They flew to Prague on the Thursday of that week (because of the match)...

One of Cavan's greatest players, Gabriel Kelly rang and asked if I would play on his team for the Cavan Gaels golf classic. I said 'of course'.

We were walking up the 8th fairway and my cousin rings me and says 'TV3 are on the 9th green here'. This was a Thursday or Friday.

I said 'get rid of them'. There was a full crew of cameras on the 9th green. I was thinking 'how is this happening'.

Long story short, they got rid of them before I got up there. I was like 'how have I found myself here?'

You can hear the episode in full here and it is a remarkable listen.

Seanie Johnston now openly admits that he regrets his transfer to Kildare, although he did say that the experience has helped mould him into the person he is today.

It was a difficult time for all involved.

SEE ALSO: 'Revenge Is Sweet When It Works Out. We Won That Game'



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