Wednesday 16 October 2019

Billy Keane: The GAA is probably best served by cute hoorism at this stage

Colm Cooper reacts to a late score on the sidelines during his club Dr Crokes’ Munster SFC quarter-final clash with Clonmel Commercials yesterday. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Colm Cooper reacts to a late score on the sidelines during his club Dr Crokes’ Munster SFC quarter-final clash with Clonmel Commercials yesterday. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

I have never heard so many expressions of support for the men and women who define our GAA borders.

Every time there is a debate on paying players any bit of money, someone always comes out with "what about the lads who line the pitch?"

You'd swear they were there out on the field singing Kerry spirituals as a way of elevating the human spirit above the lime-line drudge, while the Gooch and his friends were "above in Dublin" eating big feeds of duck a l'orange and guzzling back gallons of Chateauneuf-du-Pape 1953.

Some of the Sunday-morning- after-the-night-before GAA side-lines are more like meandering doodles.

Then there are the liners who tighten up the pitch if their team are slowing up. I have seen pitches not that much bigger than the length of a phone box or the width of a shoe box.

Martin Scanlan is our man here in the Emmets. His lines are as straight as pencils and as smudge-free as supermodel make-up.

I was invited to the Gooch testimonial dinner last Friday night and I would have gone but for the fact I was at Brendan Guiney's wedding.

Brendan, who married the lovely Elaine McCarthy here in Listowel, won two All-Ireland medals for Kerry and played on the same team as the Gooch.

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In fact, he tortured the Gooch at training. Brendan was his marker and the Gooch said that, after being tormented by Guiney, any other marker was no more than tickling and hugging.

One of the lads joked at the wedding that he wasn't giving Brendan a present as it was against the amateur ethos of the GAA.

And, if there was no sex in Ireland before TV, there was no controversy in the GAA before Joe Brolly, who took the Gooch testimonial far too seriously.

Joe, to recap, was against the concept of the Gooch holding a testimonial, because he felt it did not fit in with the GAA amateur ethos.

We will preface our remarks by saying Joe was a very classy footballer who won an All-Ireland medal.


He practises what he preaches and never charges for GAA appearances. All he gets is a few pints. And he packs any event that he attends.

Joe used the word 'yerra' in a 'Sunday Independent' piece; it was meant to imply cute hoorism on the part of the Gooch.

Joe, no one in Kerry says 'Yerra'. It's like the way no one in Killarney says 'top of the morning'.

I must take some of the blame. Years ago I wrote an alphabet piece here which I cannot find. But it can be found under 'L' for lost.

The word 'yerra' is used when we haven't a clue what to say.

The daughter comes in to the father and she says, "Daddy, I'm pregnant."

"Yerra" says the father.

"It's twins," she replies.


His wife lets fly at him. She says: "Is that all you have to say for yourself and your daughter pregnant with twins sired by Whatsit?"

"Ah sure, yerra," says the father.

Maybe yerra is the way to go on this.

As usual, Joe has opened up a debate. The GAA is not professional but many coaches are being paid - I know of a case where a GAA player who visited a school was paid appearance money by the local club.

I am against professionalism but this is not a black-and-white situation.

The GAA is probably best served by cute hoorism on this occasion. Let the players get some money on the quiet.

If we have a hard-and-fast rule which is enforced rigorously, the situation could develop in to a Catalonia. The players might revolt and seek independence.

I met with an inter-county player during the middle of the boom. He was working in construction and when all his friends were earning fortunes, the footballer was training.

He would leave work every evening to make training and missed out on overtime and bonuses. In the end, he gave up playing inter-county because he had to try to get a stake together to build a house of his own.

Wink wink, and nod nod, is possibly the best way out of this mess.

The Gooch, though, was up front and open. Donations will be made to good causes. No one present at the dinner was forced to go.

The Gooch has given us all so much and now it's time he got something back.

His excellent autobiography shows a sensitive and emotional man who has spoken honestly and openly about his struggles. I know what it's like to lose loved ones and the Gooch explains the grieving process so well.

Joe went too far with his criticism of the Gooch and he was far too personal.

Meanwhile, the friendly Kilkenny village of Ballyragget has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

It seems there was a wild party and strippers were hired. There was drink involved and possibly a sex act, even though some of the pictures may well have been photoshopped. Some of the posts show a GAA hurling trophy.

The jokes were flying - one was that Wayne Rooney is taking up hurling. But behind the laughs, there is a very serious issue.

Sources in the know say the young lads who were involved are devastated.

None of these young lads was party to the distribution of the photographs. Whoever did so was foolish or malicious.

It seems the photographs are being released on a slow drip which is what you do if you really want to cause maximum hurt.

The GAA should stay out of this. The Ballyragget party was private. The young lads went overboard but this is what young lads do on occasion. They have suffered far too much.

To the Ballyragget boys, I would say we have all made our share of mistakes. Yours was a young man's error of judgment after too much to drink. This too shall pass.

This old-timer was giving out to me about the Ballyragget carry-on with the usual 'you should write about this'.

His own glass house would be windowless if he threw stones. So I asked him: "Did you ever get up to any mad parties yourself?"

"I was wild enough," he said before downing the rest of his Mi Wadi.

"I used to be kissing herself in the sitting room. There was a holy picture up over the sofa and it used to put herself off the bit of courting so we turned Mother Teresa in to the wall."

So there you have it. Be careful - you'd never know who might be watching.

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