December 6, 2011
On Friday past, I picked up a copy of a lesser-known local newspaper and witnessed a respected barrister, a peerless football analyst, a 42 year old quick-witted raconteur emulate the naiveties of a school kid showing off to his immature friends.
For all the respect and admiration I have for Joe Brolly, entitling a piece of writing ‘I Must Have Booze’ was a cringe-worthy attempt to earn some juvenile “cool points” and it was reminiscent of a drunkard Has Been prowling the Holylands of Belfast spouting these same words as an alternative chat-up line.
As ever, the article was humorous and well-written but, unfortunately, it lacked any real thought; any sort of logic. The GAA have launched an initiative called ‘Off the Booze and On the Ball’, encouraging GAA members to abstain from alcohol for the month of January – clearly using the organisation’s presence in communities up and down the country to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and promote healthy living.
Personally, I have no real opinion on the matter. There are plenty of examples of top athletes who enjoy a drink. It’s a matter which I think some coaches can place too much emphasis. I can also see a sense of irony with the initiative leading to another public holiday – celebrating the end of the abstinence period with a good, old binge. And it comes at a time when a lot of people tone it down anyway and start leading a healthier lifestyle but it’s a nice gesture by the powers-that-be to tackle a very prevalent problem in society.
It’s the offence that Joe took from the idea that caught my attention. As if it was so ludicrous to assume that men and women could abstain from drink for 4 whole weeks. As if the GAA had any deeper roots than a night out on the lash. As if our country was known for anything else other than an infamous pint of Guinness. The whole thing was insulting.
The country’s top pundit undermined our sport’s most revered manager for taking the challenge at Wicklow, trying to quip that Mick O’Dwyer would’ve got better kicks from drugs in Ibiza! I’m sure Brolly didn’t mean to endorse this way of life (deep down, had he given it some thought) but how careless.
He told a glorious story of Willie Joe Padden giving advice to young players’ coaches – at a juvenile night in Swatragh – not about football, about swigging your pint. How cool. How constructive. What a fantastic waste of time: hosting an impressive guest of honour for an underage do and getting nothing out of it but irrelevant, irresponsible drinking tips.
He referred to Bryan Cullen’s sign off on the Hogan Stand steps, “See you at Coppers”. Is that what he took from the All-Ireland Final? When I think back, I remember Cluxton, I see MacManamon, and I think of the sacrifice it took for those boys to get there. His ’93 Semi-Final highlight was drinking ‘til dawn. Not Johnny McGurk’s heroic point? He mocked Armagh for over-preparing whilst Derry partied and still took victory. There was no mention of how we won nothing and would later be dismantled by Donegal – who I highly doubt were letting loose and nursing hangovers (not that we’d ever find out).
I’ve no problem with drinking, partying, whatever else. But when I think of the GAA, I think of sacrifice; I think of talent; I think of battle. I certainly don’t see it as a sidekick to anything else, never mind a “right good lash”.
Unfortunately, other writers do.This entry was posted in GAA, Issues. Bookmark the permalink. ← Alex McLeish: Cosmic Football What Does Phil Jones Offer in the Manchester United Midfield? →