Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Joe Kernan: Seanie’s switch saga shoots Kildare’s Cavan clash into spotlight

A player who has found himself in a sporting limbo over the course of recent months could yet emerge as a hero on the Championship stage.

What seems like thousands of centimetres of newspaper columns and endless radio and television debates have accompanied Seanie Johnston’s desire to transfer his undoubted talents from his native Cavan to Kildare.

Seldom has a player’s wish to change the colour of his jersey created such controversy.

Now at long last there appears to be a glimmer of hope that we might actually get to see Johnston do what he does best and that is playing football.

His 60 seconds of hurling action in a totally anonymous club fixture last Saturday copper-fastened his eligibility to turn out for Kildare if and when selected by their manager Kieran McGeeney in the qualifiers.

It seems incredible that a high-profile footballer can have his passport to top-flight action stamped by taking hold of a hurley stick for a minute but isn’t getting round rules one of the great preoccupations in the GAA?

And, as fate would have it, Kildare have been drawn against Cavan in Sunday week’s second round qualifier.

I have often maintained that some qualifying matches can eclipse the perceived high-profile provincial championship matches in terms of appeal, intrigue and actual significance. This is certainly one such tie.

Up until last Sunday afternoon Kildare were red-hot favourites to take their place in the Leinster final at the expense of a Meath side who were allegedly in disarray following their ignominious demotion to Division Three.

But Seamus McEnaney’s side had other ideas and their six-point victory not only transformed the Leinster series but pitched McGeeney’s men into the qualifiers. There will now be few empty spaces in Kingspan Breffni Park when Cavan, fired by that fine win over Fermanagh, attempt to heap more agony on the Lily Whites.

And don’t be too surprised if Seanie Johnston plays a part in cocking a snook at his ain folk.

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