The GAA championship is back, God is in His or Her heaven, and all is right with the world.
A smart fellow – I think it might have been me – once described the championship as “the fulcrum around which Irish summers revolve. Its hold may have waxed and waned over the years, its luminescence sometimes dimming from white-hot to a cooler red; but it’s always, always been there, and always will.”
And if you don’t like that, you’re weird and tragic and need professional help.
The football got underway last weekend with the geographically fluid Connacht first round, which involved New York playing Sligo. The hurling started a few weeks back, with the geographically fluid Leinster round-robin, which involves Kerry and Antrim, among more traditionally Leinster-based counties. And we’ll really be running with the big dogs on Saturday week, with the commencement of that annual sporting deathmatch known as the Ulster football championship.
It’ll all be available for you to enjoy, on radio, TV or online. (Except for the pointless matches that nobody cares about.) So we’ve put together a compilation of classic GAA media moments from down the years – here’s hoping this year’s championships will add one or two more…
“The greatest freak of all-time” said legendary commentator Michael O’Hehir, as Mikey Sheehy’s cheeky chip made Paddy Cullen feel silly, changed the course of the 1978 All-Ireland final, and set in course Kerry’s four-year reign of terror…
“There was a goal! There was a goal!” Michael O’Hehir again, Darby’s jig of delight and Kerry on the receiving end of a controversial goal as they chased down five-in-a-row in 1982. Did he push the defender? Eh, probably makes no difference now.
A sweet, witty poem that captures the magic of All-Ireland day – and just what it is that makes the GAA so special to so many people, from all over the country and beyond.
1980. Galway had just won the hurling All-Ireland for the first time in 57 years. Captain Joe Connolly gave a speech as Gaeilge that brought tears to many a Weshtie’s eye. And they’re tough over there.
You could fill a book with quotable quotes from the now-retired icon of radio commentary. My personal favourite is “Lazarus was a great man but he couldn’t kick points like Colin Corkery.” Damn straight he couldn’t. Didn’t have those cool gold-coloured boots like Corkery either.
“It’s definitely, probably one of the greatest days in Aherlow in GAA circumstances.” And this is definitely, probably one of the greatest videos in GAA circumstances, as a slightly hungover Tipperary man commentates on his own club’s attempts to win the county Under-21 football title. This happened in the early 1990s, and it’s still funny. Effin’ Eddie you legend!
Kieran Donaghy channelled his inner yahoo for this bellowed query after Kerry won the Sam Maguire in 2014. It became the title of his autobiography (minus the “Joe Brolly” part). The Derry hothead took it all in good spirits.
Faithful fans flooded the field – beat that for alliteration, Gerard Manley Hopkins – when their 1998 hurling semi against Clare was ended two minutes early by the ref. Conspiracy theories abounded. Everyone went insane to an enjoyable degree. Offaly won the replay, and a month later, the cup.
AKA the greatest score ever, by anyone, in any sport, anywhere. Did I say ever? I think I did. The Tipp hurling superstar was like Cruyff in his pomp as he smoothly stroked home with the boot after losing the stick. And I was there! But I missed the actual kick! Because I was standing on the terraces and was very small for a 14-year-old! FML. Anyway skip to 2:52 for grainy footage – plus awful soundtrack song – of the greatest etc. etc. etc.
Gaelic games meets The Departed – and every other “Irish-American hard-cases and hood-rats” movie of the last 20 years – in this classic Guinness ad from the mid-noughties. And yes, let’s all hope it’s not a draw. Draws always feel somehow unsatisfying, don’t they?