"I always wanted to play for Cavan" - Seanie Johnston opens up on how hard Kildare saga was 4 years ago

"I always wanted to play for Cavan" - Seanie Johnston opens up on how hard Kildare saga was

We can lose ourselves in the tribalism of sport sometimes.

Most Gaels would do anything to protect their own and to fly their flag where perhaps it shouldn't fly. But we do it anyway for pride of place.


A lot of people would give a limb to represent their county and to do it with distinction. Some dreams are borne purely out of a desire to push the county on to greater heights. That's all they see, that's all they breathe.

For Seanie Johnston, he just wanted to play football.

Not many would do the same as Johnston did if they were in the same shoes but very few sport the same fit as one of the most exciting footballers in the province seemingly transformed overnight from county captain to exile.

Whatever your thoughts on the matter are from back in 2011 and the start of 2012, it was too easy for everyone to get carried away with the glory-hunter narrative, or the traitor, or whatever else. He's just a guy that wanted to play football and had an opportunity to do that with a Kildare outfit flirting with the brink of something special.

Now, he's just a guy that wants to represent Cavan as best he can again and, according to Seanie Johnston, that's all he ever was.

In a fascinating interview on the latest GAA Hour football show, Johnston opened up about the day he went to play golf with Cavan legend Gabriel Kelly around the time of his transfer only to be informed that there was a TV3 camera crew waiting at one of the greens for him.


"I'm just delighted to be back playing with Cavan," the forward is glad it is all behind him now in this his second season back at Breffni Park. "The lads have been brilliant. The setup there and the morale between players is excellent.

"You can only go on how you feel yourself but there hasn't been a bad word said to me on the Cavan side of things and I obviously really appreciate that. It was a difficult scenario and one that would cause you a few sleepless nights before going back.

"When you're performing and working hard, people seem to move on. Football is football and life is life, there are other things more important but, up in Cavan, football is a huge thing and I'm delighted to be helping out in any way I can and hopefully I'll continue to do that."

As luck would have it - or whatever football gods were looking on and laughing would have it - Johnston's debut for the Lilywhites of course came back at the home of his native county.

He came on and scored in a win for Kildare that day but it is not something he enjoys thinking about. Such was the ordeal that his parents actually left the country at the same time to get away from it.

"It was very, very difficult for them," Johnston told The GAA Hour.

"That's why, at the time, I didn't do much talking because they were getting it from all barrels. There were people at the house.

"It wasn't a nice experience, clearly [coming on against Cavan]. It was very, very difficult. It's one that you try and... look, you can dwell on things as much as you like but I'm trying to move on and look to the future rather than the past. I'm trying to focus as much as I can and trying to perform as well as I can for the team. I've probably tried to leave that in my past - if you constantly dwelt on it, it would put you in bad form.

"It's a case of trying to move on and contribute to the Cavan setup as much as possible.

"In life, you're learning all the time. You look back and there are things that maybe didn't work out as well. I felt in a very difficult situation. I said this openly at the time that I always wanted to play with Cavan. It was never that I didn't want to play. Since I was six or seven and I went on the development squads at 13 or 14, I always wanted to play for Cavan.

"People have their own opinions. I learned very quickly that you can't please everyone and, when you try to please everyone, you end up annoying more people. For me, football was everything for a lot of years but, as you get older, you see a different side of things and there are more important things."


Listen to the full brilliant interview (from 8:40) below. Or subscribe here on iTunes.