GAA - Begley moves to Parnell's job 'to get back on track'

Colm Begley has said that his decision to transfer from Stradbally to Dublin club Parnell's was down to a desire to get his "life back on track" after four years as a professional Australian Rules player.

Begley has taken up a job as a Games Promotion Officer for a two-year spell with Parnell's but he will also play with the club. In doing so he will become the third Laois player to sign for the Coolock club after Colm Parkinson and Darren Rooney moved last year.

"When I came home initially I was hoping to play with Stradbally and Laois and I was hoping to get a job around home that would have let me do that. Both Stradbally and Laois were looking for a job for me but it's not easy. There are lads out there with good degrees and good experience and can't get work so when Parnell's approached me to see if I'd be interested I said I'd speak to them.

"I was looking at all opportunities and this is a chance to get back on track. Parnell's have found themselves in a position where they can employ people in coaching jobs so I'm going to be going around to the schools in the area coaching and I'll also be involved with the club. I'm still going to play for Laois because if there was any issue with that there would have been no chance I'd have transferred."

Stradbally GAA have expressed their annoyance at what they see as a recruitment policy by the Dublin clubs. In a statement on their website they said: "Unfortunately and reluctantly, Stradbally GAA has signed the transfer for Colm Begley to change clubs to Parnell's of Dublin. It is with regret that we see bigger clubs enticing and hoovering up the rural club's young footballers. We wish Colm all the best in the future and look forward to his return."

Begley admits that it's hard for Stradbally to compete with the likes of Parnell's. "They are worlds apart. There's no other club in the county with the resources they have after selling their grounds and they are in a position to offer players jobs.

"Stradbally have been fantastic. They're disappointed that I'm leaving but they understand my position and that it's a job I'm going to. I could understand if people are annoyed but I haven't come across it and I hopefully will play for Stradbally at some stage again."

Begley says that he's hoping to get back studying too and he's looking at courses in DCU and UCD. "I'm going to be living close to DCU and I want to get started studying part-time but I've started the job now so it's one step at a time."

Parnell's GAA chairman Frank Gleeson, however, rejects Stradbally's claims. "Colm is coming to work and study in Dublin and it doesn't make any sense for a young lad to be travelling up and down. He has made a decision for his future and his career and I wouldn't see it like the way Stradbally are seeing it.

"Colm is joining us full time and he'll be working in the secondary schools under Declan Power (the club's Games Development Manager). He has lived as a professional sportsperson in Australia and he's an excellent role model for young players."

In total Parnell's have ten coaches something Gleeson admits is down to their ability to pay people to work for the club. And their new-found status as a cash-rich club is down to the fact that they sold their original grounds near Dublin Airport for €22m and entered in to a deal with the Marist Fathers and Chanel College.

The club is to develop three full-sized playing pitches as well as a clubhouse on 12 acres and are to build houses and apartments on an adjacent eight acres. The school will have use of all of the club's facilities. In total the club now employ ten full-time coaches.

Last year they made considerable strides on the field - gaining promotion to Division 1 of the Dublin league, a year after finishing just five places off the bottom of Division 2. They also had a good run in the championship where they were beaten in the round before the quarter-final by Ballymun Kickhams. The previous year, they failed to win any of their three championship games.


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