Ballyshannon and Donegal hurling star Peter Horan received the accolade of club player of the year on Saturday night at the annual Aodh Ruadh GAA dinner dance - the only problem was that he had to receive the accolade via Skype, after being forced to emigrate to Australia last month.
The 29-year-old, who won a Lory Meagher Cup GAA medal with Donegal last year was “surprised and humbled” with the award but said he “greatly appreciated” the award, all the more poignant, as he was half-a-world away.
The unusual scene - a sign of the times - was all the more evocative as it was Peter’s partner, Ellen Cullen, who picked up the award on his behalf. They also have a young son, Aaron.
He hopes in time, to earn enough money for his young family to join him in Australia.
Before leaving for Perth last month he remarked on his predicament: “To be perfectly honest I feel that the country has let us down.”
“I don’t want to leave this county or country. A lot of people seem to think that all the young people are attracted to Australia by the warm climate, the images of surf and sand and the adventure. The fact is that the vast majority of us are going for one reason and one reason only - work. There is simply nothing here.”
In the weeks before he emigrated Peter had been travelling up and down to Navan on a daily basis where he had managed to get some temporary work.
“This was a four hour drive each day. It was tough but at least it gave me back my respect and a reason to get up in the morning. At the end of the day, we all want to feel that we are making a contribution, we want to feel wanted,” he recalled.
The one consolation for the Ballyshannon man, is that he will feel very much at home, as a large number of people from Donegal have already made the move to Western Australia and there is already a very vibrant ex-pat Ballyshannon community there.
“People are making sacrifices - it is tough. I will miss home, the family, my friends around the county and the hurling, but I have a responsibility to give my family the life and the opportunities they deserve,” he said before his enforced embarkation.