The term Crossing the Floor is one used in parliamentary parlance. It is an expression used to record the momentous action of a member of parliament crossing from one side of the house to the other. Leaving behind one’s colleagues and joining the opposing side and offering ‘the enemy’ your support and allegiance. It is always of mould breaking dimensions. It represents usually a fundamental shift in thought, in policy and in conviction. It is an action of profound importance and consequences.
Perhaps the most high profile in these parts is the crossing of the floor by Winston Churchill from the Liberals to the Torys. The earliest, this writer recalls, in Dáil Eireann is Paddy Norton, son of Labour Leader Bill Norton crossing from the Labour Party to Fianna Fáil. In our own bailiwick we remember Bobby Molloy crossing from Fianna Fáil to the Progressive Democrats and in more recent times Ciarán Cannon moving from the Progressive Democrats to Fine Gael. Momentous decisions.
The movement of players from Corinthians to the ould enemy Galwegians and from Galwegians to Corinthians is both remarkable and numerous in the light of declared and agreed enmity and competitiveness of both clubs for one another over the past eighty years or so. The loyal supporters of both clubs find it difficult to cope with the surprise, the slight, the shock, maybe the letdown, insult perhaps, of one of their own giving allegiance to the other. And yet since the early days of both clubs the practice is rife. The player traffic was always in both directions.
The transfer of Corinthian product and Connacht player Eoin Griffin to Wegians this season highlights the subject yet again. The logic is valid. It is best that Eoin Griffin play club rugby at the highest level available when not on Connacht duty. He is a contracted professional player and he’ll do what he’s told. But the reasons for crossing the rugby floor were always varied such as personal likes and dislikes, different approaches to the game, one division of football vis a vis another, coaching approaches and techniques, career opportunities, whatever. Lookit, a handy lift on a Tuesday or Thursday night to training would make a mockery of any loyalty!
Players transferred from one club to the other on a routine and regular basis. They crossed the floor. The list of those who played adult competitive rugby for both clubs and not including those who merely guested in friendly games is quite surprising. Names that come to mind include, Martin Boyce, Nigel Carolan, Dermot Casserly, Dave Clarke, John Cleary, Brendan Collins, Tommy Collins, Ambrose Conboy, Alan Connolly, Shane Connolly, Tony Cunningham, Jack Deacy, Miko Deacy, Hugo Doyle, Godfrey Gibbons, David Gilmartin, JoJo Gorham, Eoin Griffin, Gerry Gunnane, Pat Halloran, Ian Hutchinson, Stephen Hutchinson, Mickey Joyce, Bernard Keaney, Jim Kennedy, Paddy Keogh, Ronan Loughney, Patsy Lynch, Pat McGrath, Cormac McGuckian, Christy McGuinn, Kieran McHugh, Martin McPhail, Joey Merrigan, Gerry Mullen, Eugene Mulligan, Cormac O’Beirne, Christy O’Connor, Jonny O’Connor, Tony O’Sullivan, Henry O’Toole, Ian Place, Tim Richardson, Mike Roche. Forty four last count. Any inaccuracies? Tellus. Sue for defamation! Write to the Ombudsman!
Did JJ Glynn President of the IRFU 1958/59 play with Corinthians? Don’t know really. Maybe. Meant to ask Eoin Hosty, alas. Certainly his sibling(s) played with Corinthians in their time. Enda Glynn comes to mind. That very special coach Bernie Kelly who came to these shores not so long ago served both Corinthians and Galwegians. Sure even Fergal Daly went to Wegians to coach! But there was another.
Here’s a clue, Noel Mannion was not the only Corinthian No.8 to play for Ireland! Noel Mannion played 15 times for Ireland (1988-1993), the same as Tony O’Sullivan (1957-1963) but this other played 21 times for Ireland while with Corinthians (and UL Bohs). Mary O’Loughlin crossed the floor from Galwegians to Corinthians in 1998 and proceeded to bring honour to this fine club playing with Connacht and Ireland. She retired in 2005 with a plethora of AIL Leagues and Cups, played in European Championships and in the World Cup Barcelona 2002. Forty five last count!
We’ll see more, now that the professional culture of the game is calling the shots. Does it matter? Not a bit. Keep playing the game, keep promoting the game, keep supporting the game, keep enjoying the game. The greatest field game in the world. The greatest team game in the world.