COLM BEGLEY'S former club have claimed that rural GAA outposts are in danger of seeing their top young talent "hoovered up" by bigger clubs in the capital.
Stradbally were commenting in the wake of Begley's transfer to Parnells in Dublin -- and against the backdrop of news that another one of their most gifted footballers, Stephen Lawlor, is mulling over a move to St Vincent's.
"Unfortunately and reluctantly, Stradbally GAA has signed the transfer for Colm Begley to change clubs to Parnells of Dublin," the club announced on its own website. "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," the statement concluded, hopefully.
Stradbally are also bracing themselves for the possible loss of Lawlor, who was wing-back on the Laois team that narrowly lost the 2007 All-Ireland U21 football final to Cork and who was also part of Seán Dempsey's county senior panel last year.
Contacted about the rumours, Lawlor was non-committal. The player, who is already living in the city, said he was "looking into" the possibility of a move and discussing the issue with Stradbally at the moment, but there was "nothing set in stone".
If he does apply for a transfer, however, he confirmed it will definitely be to Vincent's.
Parnells won't be winning any popularity contests among the Laois grassroots, given that the northside outfit have now secured the services of three high-profile players from the county -- Colm Parkinson, Darren Rooney and former AFL star Begley -- in recent times. However, Begley stressed that he's looking forward to making a big contribution to his new club where, apart from adding his considerable talents as a player, he will also work as a games promotion officer.
"What really appeals to me is the ambition the club has. Just before Christmas Parnells got the go-ahead for a superb development which will transform the club. So this is a club which is going places fast," he declared in a statement released through his new club.
"Parnells were Leinster champions in the late eighties and have been Dublin champions six times. The players and management want to get back up there. I know from some of the Laois lads who are here already that this club also has a tremendous community spirit. So those factors were really important to me in choosing Parnells," Begley concluded. The 23-year-old returned home last October, having spent four seasons in Australia playing for the Brisbane Lions and then St Kilda, and he has subsequently rejoined the Laois senior panel under Seán Dempsey.