Mick will always remember Leinster Final parade - Louth defender forced to leave county due to recruitment ban in his chosen field

WHEN Louth defender Mick Fanning looks back on 2010, he tries to bury the ending of the Leinster Final.

WHEN Louth defender Mick Fanning looks back on 2010, he tries to bury the ending of the Leinster Final.

On July 11, 2010, Fanning, along with 14 other Louth players enjoyed the greatest experience of their careers as they walked around the hallow turf of Croke Park in a parade before the Leinster Final infront of 60,000 fans, 35,000 of which were waving red and white flags.

It was something that Fanning will never forget and despite the way the day ended, he will always look back at that moment as the best feeling of the summer.

Speaking a week before he departs for Australia with fellow Louth teammate Brian White, the Naomh Mairtin man said: "The build-up and the parade of the Leinster Final is something I will always remember.

"Right up to the end, all the Championship games were fantastic. Going up through under-age, Louth had not had that kind of success. We saw finals on the television, but to walk around and see all the red and white before the county's biggest game in a long time, it's hard to describe. It's fantastic.

"There's a lot of stuff going on before the game, at the time you cannot enjoy it. It's only when you look back at it and realise what was happening as at the time. Looking back, all the boys will probably say the parade was the best thing ever.

"It was unfortunate to have it end like that."

Since then, Fanning, along with the rest of the panel have found themselves in a strange position as they are always reminded about the travesty every day.

TALK "Everyone you talk to, they want to talk to you about it. It's very annoying what happened but you have to move on. There's always something that reminds you of it.

"It's January, a new season, a new start for the lads. The team has to move on or else they will be stuck there, looking into the past.

"That's not what you want to happen.

"It's the same for the supporters. It will always be a topic of conservations, but hopefully the team and players can move on from it."


Two months ago, 24-year-old Fanning, along with Brian White booked their tickets to Australia, leaving club and county football behind for a year.

A qualified physiotherapist, Fanning has struggled to find work due to a HSE Embargo on recruitment. It has forced his hand, leaving him with no option, other than emigrate.

"It's virtually impossible to get a job because of a recruitment embargo from the HSE so I've been struggling to find work.

"I'm qualified nearly two years. I've had loads of interviews but most of the jobs out there are for senior positions, so it's a catch-22 situation, where you cannot get the experience for those positions."

Along with the lack of work, Fanning has a burning ambition to travel, something he shares in common with White.

Knowing that a life travelling and working in Australia after he hangs up the boots would be unrealistic, he has decided to bite the bullet and do it now, before he regrets it.

"I'm looking forward to it. Ever since I made the decision, I cannot wait to get away. That was it and now everything is organised and I'm ready to go.

"It was something I was always going to do. Even when I was 17 or 18 I knew I wanted to go. I was very close to going last year.

"I said no, I'll stay and play football and thank God I did, as we had a great year.

"It was always in my head and with the work situation, I had to go. It's hard because the only thing keeping me here would be Louth.

"It is one thing I will miss, but I know when I finish the gaelic, it will be too late to travel so I kind of have to go now.

"After Louth finished last year, myself and Brian started talking and the decision was made."


Fanning's family are supportive of his move, once he doesn't plan on settling there, he says. They understand his situation, as does his club.

"My family have been very supportive. They understood that I always wanted to go. Once they saw what my work was like, they knew I had to go.

"I'm going for the year to see what happens, I've no plans to settle down there or anything."

His club, Naomh Mairtin, were reluctant to let him go, especially as the idea had now swept throughout the Monasterboice outfit.

"Some people do not know why I cannot get a job and don't know why I'm going. I love playing for Louth, but I have to go for work.

"There's been a lot of publicity about it when a lot of people my age leave the area, but when three players leave a county panel because of it, it increases.

"Myself and Brian are good friends. John was going anyways and that's the way it worked out. It's unfortunate for the county, but I'm sure there are players that can come in and replace us.

"It's not like they have not tried to persuade us against going as they have. But it's something I always planned on doing. If it doesn't work out, hopefully I've football to return home to.

"The club were disappointed. It's unfortunate as a few lads from the Parish have the same idea now, so if that hits the Parish, it's bad for the team."

One image some people may remember from the infamous Leinster Final is the sight of Fanning racing onto the surface to have words with bundling referee Martin Sludden after the game. During the second half, Fanning had to be replaced as he fell awkwardly on his shoulder. As the minutes ticked away, he watched impatiently from the sidelines, a tough task for a player who was involved throughout the campaign.

"I was up in the stand sitting down and then I moved out closer and closer as it got towards the final whistle to see the action.

"And then the goal happened. Even more sickening that I was on the sideline as it happened as I was involved for so long and the way I fell on the shoulder, I couldn't continue.

"I went over and had my words with the referee. I don't regret it as I felt I had to do it."

On Sunday, Louth played their first game of the season against Down. Fanning was not involved. He rang his father to find out the score, something he admits he will have to get his around as he departs in the coming days.

"It's something I am going to have to get used to, ringing home for results. "Usually I be getting ready for the winter slog, so it's strange at the moment.

"But I am looking forward to it."