Tuesday 23 January 2018

Billy Keane: Ulster tacticians will eventually break free like Freddie Mercury

Dublin footballer Ger Brennan Gilroy says he’s voting ‘No’ in the upcoming marriage referendum
Dublin footballer Ger Brennan Gilroy says he’s voting ‘No’ in the upcoming marriage referendum
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Mid-May and the swallows are barely settled. The weather is National Leagueish, yet there are huge games being played this very weekend. It's here now, and there will be no let-up until the autumn.

But there are some causes that cannot be ignored even on opening day. Dublin footballer Ger Brennan says he's voting 'No'. Ger is entitled to his opinion. The fact that Ger is voting 'No' will not do the 'Yes' camp any harm in Kerry. Ger went in very hard on Declan O'Sullivan in the 2011 All-Ireland final.

Back in my time, gay GAA players had to keep their sexuality a secret. So it is then that so many didn't have the good luck to enhance their life experiences by spending time with openly gay people.

Many of the 50-plus-Vatters will be voting 'No' too. I do not believe these men are homophobic - it's more of a case that they have no experience of interacting with our gay Irish.


It was in the back lane of Teddy O'Connor's in Killarney on the day of a Munster final. My Dad introduced me to one of the all-time greats who was drunk from free drink. Dad said the reason the all-time great drank so much was because he was gay and had to keep his story a secret. The all-time great drank himself to death. It was one long suicide. Or maybe society killed him.

Vote 'Yes' for all the all-time greats.

We'll go back to where we started out. Championship GAA brings normally calm men and women to states of excitement bordering on lunacy.

Such losing of the head would not be tolerated in the polite drawing-room circles where people drink out of cups with handles as tidy as a leprechaun's ear.

The going to the games and the going mad at the games is a release from the mouldy.

The couple of pints after a match are the sweetest of all. The talk is the finest and every man and every woman gets a say.

I'd love to be in Ballybofey tomorrow for the Donegal-Tyrone game but it's too far away. I'm still trying to figure out who will do what. The television only shows so much. You'd want to be up on a tree or high on a hill on a white horse overlooking the battlefield to get a proper view of tactics and formations.

There's no truth in the rumour the Tyrone and Donegal county boards are sending coaches to Sandhurst for a bit of training in drills. The notion was rejected on political grounds. West Point might be acceptable, as the Americans never invaded the north.

Donegal played attacking football against Kerry in the league and gave away several goals. Tyrone played defensively for the most of the match in Omagh and were being bate out the gate until they changed back to an attacking game. Mickey's men ran at Kerry and even though they were given a few handy frees, Tyrone deserved a draw.

It could be that both sides will stay in their own halves and refuse to come out. It will be play to rule. At some stage either Donegal or Derry will have to break free like Freddie Mercury. Donegal are better suited to the league-like conditions and might win but you couldn't be up to Mickey Harte.

A parting glass

We must pay tribute to a fallen hero. Tarbert beat us by a point in the North Kerry final in 2010. It was the best final ever. The Tarbert captain that day was Darragh Lanigan.

He passed on this week. Darragh was only 31. Yet Darragh achieved so much. He was a primary teacher who coached GAA in Kerry and Limerick. Yet the teaching didn't end at three o'clock. He was a great community man. Brendan Guiney, his colleague and fiercest football rival, paid tribute. "Darragh had the priceless attributes of empathy and intelligence. He was a very decent man."

Our sympathies to Darragh's wife Louise. And to all the Lanigans. I played against the Lanigans. They were tough, but very fair and they passed on their love of the game to Darragh.

God go with you young Darragh.

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