'I didn't want to harm anyone, I just wanted to play'
At the end of that day in Breffni, he shook hands with the Cavan players and they with him. If there were hard feelings they weren’t on his side and he didn’t hear anything coming back to suggest they were on the other. Quite the opposite in fact.
“The main positive I took out of it all is that the people who were my best friends a year ago are still my best friends. That’s a huge thing to be able to say, to be able to point to fellas who will stand at your side.
“The likes of John McCutcheon, Mark McKeever, Cian Mackey, Dermot Sheridan, Ronan Flanagan. All those lads that I would have played with for years couldn’t have been more helpful to me. They’re just genuine people and I still chat to them regularly.
“They wished me well, just the same as I wished them well. Nothing changed between us. That’s not what friendship is built on.”
So here he is. Kildare’s number 13 for now and if he keeps up the 1-3 return he delivered last Sunday against Kerry, their number 13 for the foreseeable as well. Dublin tomorrow is another step along the road, another click on the odometer with last summer gradually disappearing from view.
“I don’t want to bring up old wounds and I want to move on into the future. But for all the people who were talking about my situation or my commute or how I lived my life, I was never saying anything about how anyone else lived theirs. I wouldn’t do that.
“People are going to live their life however they want to live it and all you can do as you meet people is try to make their life a bit better. Make them smile, make them laugh, open a door for them, anything at all. You might only meet them for a minute and you mightn’t see them again for ages. So why not try to do something positive?”
That’s some pretty tree-hugging hippie talk for a man who was going to bring down the association this time last year. And guess what?
The floodwaters of mercenary transfers haven’t breached the levees in the meantime. Johnston is a Kildare player and Croke Park still stands.
The GAA will survive.
That anyone thinks it won’t probably says more about them than it does about Seánie Johnston.
Seánie’s saga Key dates
October 2011: Johnston is left off the Cavan panel for 2012 by Val Andrews
December 2011: His application for an intercounty transfer to Kildare is turned down on the basis that as a Cavan schoolteacher, he neither lives nor works in Kildare.
January 2012: Cavan county board objects to his application for a club transfer to St Kevin’s of Straffan.
March: GAA refuses his transfer request on the basis that he was moving to play for a county for which he has no obvious allegiance. This is deemed to be contrary to the Association’s ethos.
April: Rule passed at Congress saying a player must play a club championship game in his new county to be eligible for the county team.
May: A new request is turned by a fresh CCCC panel. This decision is appealed to the CAC and Johnston wins on a technicality.
July 1: With no club football championship scheduled in Kildare until the end of the county’s summer, Johnston lines out for Coill Dubh, the hurling club affiliated to St Kevin’s. He is substituted after 90 seconds.
July 16: Makes debut off the bench in Kildare’s qualifier win over Cavan. Scores a point.