PAUL Loughnane was sold a dream by Dinny Cahalane to join Castlehaven GAA Club and fulfil his ambitions of playing and winning championship titles in Cork.
The Toronto-born footballer joined Castlehaven in 2001 and played a key role in helping them capture the senior title in 2003. It was the perfect parting gift for the defender who loved representing the Haven.
“I arrived in January of 2001 and returned to Toronto in April, 2004. It was very tough to leave the community that had become my second home, but I felt it was the right decision for my career."
It was through meeting up with Castlehaven player Dinny Cahalane who was living in Toronto at the time, that convinced Paul he should embark on a new journey in his football career. He is delighted he followed his gut instinct.
“Meeting the guys on the team and the people within the community was great. They were football mad. Everyone was incredibly welcoming. The club is central to the entire community.”
Castlehaven defeated Clonakilty to capture the Andy Scannell Cup in 2003. He credits the return of Bernie Collins and Alan Crowley to their squad as huge factors in their success.
“It was an amazing feeling to win the county. We needed something to take us that extra step. Bernie Collins returned from Australia and Alan Crowley returned from injury. James McCarthy convincing Padraig Burke to come on board as part of the team management was also huge.
"Bernie and Alan were massive additions, but I believe that Mr Burke was the biggest reason we won that county. I was really saddened to hear of his recent passing.
"He had a great way of teaching you the game and preparing you for different situations. He helped us understand what true pressure was. We were playing football, whether we won or lost, life would go on. Putting things in perspective had a positive effect on the whole team. We could handle setbacks and adversity so much better.”
Loughnane still follows the progress of the Castlehaven senior footballers and makes the trip home to West Cork when possible.
“When I came over, I didn’t really know what was in store. I knew I was taking a bit of a gamble by leaving a job and family in Toronto.
"I wasn’t totally sure I would make the standard and was prepared for the fact that things may not work out. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was delighted to have the experience of joining such a great community and making so many new friends.”