Longing for Cavan football on the far side of the world 1 month ago

Longing for Cavan football on the far side of the world

Work will be alright. The family will still be there.

The hardest thing for Conor Moynagh, about leaving Drumgoon for the trip of a lifetime, was leaving a year of Gaelic football behind him.

For more than ten years now, he's been a beating heart for Breffni county football but there comes a time when every footballer must weigh things up.

He'd planned to set off on his travels in 2019 but football and more specifically, the whiff of an Ulster first round clash against neighbours Monaghan, kept him home and kept him involved.

2019 ended up being a successful year for Mickey Graham's team - who made it all the way to an Ulster final - and indeed a successful year for Conor Moynagh, the All-Star nominated, long-range point scoring defender who turned plenty of heads with his influential attacking play.

Mickey Graham had been fore-warned, with Moynagh inclined to express his travelling intentions early on - but it still must have been some blow for the Bainisteoir, to lose a primed Conor Moynagh - as well as a host of other key players.

In reality though, the hardest blow was the blow of realisation for Conor Moynagh, who struggled and still struggles with the thoughts of it, as he explained in a brilliant interview with Colm Parkinson on Thursday's GAA Hour Show, live from New Zealand.

"I feel so selfish saying it. Leaving work was one thing... I could always go back. Leaving the family was another...they're still going to be there. But leaving the Cavan panel was the last string to cut.

"I let Mickey know good and early. Now I had flirted with the idea last year but stayed on  - then I told Mickey - It was very hard to leave that..."

So off he went, with team captain Dara McVeety for company, but while exploring the beauty of South America, the daydreams of glory days with Cavan were only a thought away.

"I don't know what's harder. Seeing them do poorly is devastating...Me and Darragh were following it the first game against Armagh and that was really hard. Then seeing them doing well is great and the lads are buzzing, but you want to be a part of that as well. When they're losing, you want to help them and you feel guilty for not being there...I feel guilty that I'm not missing any football. It's good that I'm not, but it's not for the right reasons..."

"I certainly don't feel old. You feel that you can play forever...With the GAA releasing those old games online, when you're away and seeing those games - you just want to be back there..."

"The lifestyle in New Zealand/Sydney is something I like but I don't know, it's something I've got time to think about over the next couple of months...The only thing in truth that would bring me home is playing football for Cavan and for Drumgoon...it's just the thought of missing another couple of years...I change my mind every week!"

As for the travels, Moynagh and McVeety were lucky enough to have had plenty of ground covered before the reality of this virus hit.

"I was coming towards the end of my travels anyway. I left in October, went to Canada, hit Colombia for a few weeks. Worked our way down the Amazon, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, the Galapagos, Peru, Argentina and Brazil - which ended our South American trip then. Flew to New Zealand for a couple of weeks, went off to Melbourne - and that's when it was sinking in, the numbers were increasing. I was in Sydney with Dara McVeety and his sister, we saw how things went in Ireland so I jumped back to New Zealand just before lock-down and got a 12 month Visa here so I can sit this out for as long as I need to..."

"We were flirting with the idea maybe going to the states, seeing a bit of sun, seeing a bit of football before going home again. But look, putting a dint in our travels is the least worrying thing that's happening in the world right now..."

Life goes on.

"The takeaways will re-open on April 27 so might be able to get a dirty chipper then..."

Food for thought...

You can listen to the Conor Moynagh interview, as well as much more chat from this Thursday's GAA Hour show here.