The Bizarre world of the GAA

The Bizarre World of GAA.

For all the seriousness involved in the sporting world the odd dose of the unusual is a welcome one.

1.The Day The GAA Woz Robbed.
Shortly after half time on the day of the Munster Hurling Final between Cork and Clare (1977) three men armed with revolvers opened the unlocked door of the counting room in Semple Stadium, Thurles; one of the men held three officials and a nine year old boy at bay while the others helped themselves to the cash and made off with £24,000 approximately. One scallywag later remarked that had the armed men asked the officials to empty their pockets they have made off with a lot more. Theories concerning the brains behind the operation abound to this day.

2.Where’s My Hurl?
As the 2001 All-Ireland Club Hurling Final raced to its conclusion the boys from Graigue-Ballycallan began to wobble and Athenry sensed it. Athenry would eventually win the day in extra time but in a grandstand finish in normal time Eugene Cloonan scored the equalizing goal. Only moments later, and with the benefit of the action replay, did everyone realize that in the struggle to secure the three points Cloonan had wrestled the hurl of the opposing full back away for him to deliver this killer blow.

3. When Cork Shagged Off To The Train Station!
A Dublin v Cork Football League Semi-Final (1987) which ended in a draw. Over the PA it had been announced that extra time would be played. Cork however headed for the train station insisting that they had their tickets bought. Dublin lined out for the extra period, the ball was thrown in and Dublin sauntered down the field was the easiest goal Barney Rock ever scored. For once Frank Murphy failed to get his way in the smoky committee rooms.

4. Kerry & Bendix.
A week before the 1985 All-Ireland final the Kerry panel stripped off, wrapped themselves in towels and posed around a Bendix washing machine in a Tralee dressing room. The following Sunday, several newspapers carried a full-page advertisement of the scene with the accompanying slogan: ‘only Bendix could whitewash this lot.’ It was intended to mark the beginning of a three-year campaign with Bendix which would generate funding to improve the GAA grounds in Kerry. The deal caused absolute ructions.

5. Jimmy Cooney’s Lost Minutes.
The 1998 All-Ireland Hurling Semi-Final between Clare and Offaly. As the Clare men clung to a three point lead, Galway referee Jimmy Cooney blew the game with two minutes of normal time remaining. By the time he realized his mistake he had been ushered from the field. The Offaly fans staged a sit-in and won the replay in Thurles.

6. When Tipperary Invented The Media Ban.
The now defunct Irish Press ran a photograph on the front page which recorded a dust-up in the league final between Tipp and Kilkenny in 1968. The headline underneath asked: ‘is this sport?’ Later in the year as Tipp prepared for their All-Ireland final against Wexford, certain journalists were banned from Tipp training sessions. In response the NUJ instructed its members not to refer to the Tipp players by name in reports.

7. The Three Stripes Affair.
Before the Munster Football Final (1976) Cork were generously offered a set of Adidas jerseys. The sight of the logo sent county board officials into convulsions and with a mere twenty minutes before the throw-in tape was being attached to the cloth while officials pleaded unsuccessfully with the players to wear the traditional blood and bandage.

8. You’re Off!
Changes in GAA refereeing legislation always ensure pandemonium. 1999 saw the introduction of the modern red card/yellow card ‘cautioning’ system. The interpretation of Cork ref Niall Barrett left a lot to be desired in a Leinster championship tie between Carlow and Westmeath. Barrett dished out fourteen yellow cards and gave six the line, four from Carlow.

9. Two Yellows You’re Off!
All-Ireland Minor Football Semi-Final (2000) Cork v Derry. Cork midfielder Kieran Murphy received two yellows but Roscommon referee Gerry Kinneavy neglected to send him off. Quick to notice the mistake the Cork bench substituted Murphy and proceeded to win the game. The miss was of course highlighted to the referee in the aftermath, Frank Murphy however arrived into the Cork dressing room and instructed them not to worry about anything and to prepare for the final as best they could, and he would ‘sort it out.’ The Cork minors went on the win the All-Ireland.

10. The Maverick.
The Roscommon keeper Shane Curran has built himself quite a reputation. As legend has it while on trial with Manchester United the Connacht man assured Alec Ferguson that if the Scot thought he had trouble with Paul McGrath he was now in for something entirely different. Curran’s most enduring claim to fame however comes from the Connacht Minor Final (1989). As the game against Galway drew to its conclusion Roscommon trailed by a point, crucially they were awarded a penalty. Curran, lining out at wing forward, was more than enthusiastic about taking it. After a brief conversation between those interested another player lined up to take it while Curran hovered nearby. At the very last moment however Curran sprinted past and blasted his shot home. Reputably Curran had a comment to make as sprinted to the placed ball: ‘I told you I was f*****g taking it.’ The ref involved blew the whistle immediately, Roscommon assumed they had won and headed off to collect the cup. The Galway boys agreed to a replay, which Roscommon won.

11. Get Off For God’s Sake!
The All-Ireland Football Final 1995. Dublin’s Charlie Redmond was sent off by Tipp’s Paddy Russell against Tyrone. Obstinate to the last Charlie stayed on the field for the next few minutes before Russell spotted him and corrected the oversight. Tyrone lost by a point and to their eternal credit made no official complaint.

12. The Kerry Family Jewels.
The Munster Football Final between Cork and Kerry and centre back Conor Counihan takes it upon himself to feel up Jack O’Sé’s privates, Vinny Jones style, and on live TV too. A near riot ensued with the Bomber Liston distinguishing himself with the haymakers he delivered in the ensuing melée.

13. The Day Enon Gavin Brought The House Down.
The Connacht Football Final (1992) between Mayo and Roscommon. In the excitement Enon took it upon himself to swing out of a crossbar only for it to give way and come crashing down. Apparently Enon still gets the traditional ribbing about the whole affair to this day.

14. The Battle Of Aughrim.
Laois v Wicklow (1986). Laois to their delight had just won the National League and considered their first round clash with Wicklow a minor detail. Carthage Buckley from Offaly was the unfortunate referee. Wicklow didn’t stand back to admire the ambitions of the Laois men. The Laois players got a little frustrated with the whole affair and three of same got the line. The Laois fans chased the referee from the field at the final whistle which of course greeted a famous Wicklow win.

15. That Feckin’ Eejagh!
Many moons ago when The Sunday Game decided to do a feature on the GAA careers of famous Irish people Mick Hand told a story about a visit to Inniskeen he made at the behest of RTE. Hand was instructed to assess the locals memories of the poet Patrick Kavanagh. A couple of local ould lads soon opened his eyes. They remembered Kavanagh not for his poetry but for his ineptitude in the goal. They described Patrick as a ‘f****n eegah’ and described the scene of a crucial game which occurred on a particularly hot day. With play at the opposite end Kavanagh spotted an ice cream vendor and trotted over to indulge himself, in the mean time however the opposition raced up the field to score the winning goal. Kavanagh’s name was synonymous with infamy in Monaghan thereafter.

16. The Meath Calamity?
Meath v Kerry All-Ireland Semi-Final 1986. Brian Stafford is dispossessed out the field. Ogie Moran drills a hopeful ball forward. Mick Lyons, Joe Cassells and Mickey McQuillan all decide to go for the one ball. Roguishly Lyons tries to push Ger Power (Kerry) out of the way, but collides with the advancing McQuillan while Cassells is tripped by Lyons outstretched leg. The ball bounces helpfully into Power’s path and the resultant goal decides the course of the encounter.

17. Why Paddy Cullen Has Such A Good Sense Of Humour!
Dublin leads Kerry (1978). Cullen advances off his line to deal with an easy clearance. He collects and fists to Robbie Kelleher but brushes off Kerry’s Ger Power on his way back to the house. Kildare ref Seamus Aldridge blows for a free. The gentleman he is Kelleher hands the ball to Mikey Sheehy while Cullen argues with Aldridge. A realization hits Cullen. The Dublin publican later described that he could ‘see in his face what he was going to do.’ But perhaps Con Houlihan made a better description: ‘Cullen raced back to the goal not unlike a woman who could smell something burning in her oven.’ Kerry went on to win by seventeen points.

18. Ken Hogan’s Boob.
The 1993 All-Ireland Semi-Final, Tipp v Galway. Although only trailing by two points the Connacht men were making little headway and as Michael McGrath lobbed a hopeful ball forward, which would drop short, Ger Canning was already bored. The current Tipp manager Ken Hogan must have taken pity on the tribesmen. The weak looping effort bounced in front of the Lorrha man and instead of coming off his chest and down to his hurl as intended it struck him on the shoulder and trickled home. Galway won.

19. Anyone Seen Sam?
In 1959 Kerry won their 19th All-Ireland, and the great Mick O’Connell must have been bored with the whole affair. After hammering Galway that September day O’Connell as captain was responsible for Sam Maguire but left it in the dressing room. O’Connell had been married the previous day and perhaps there was something else on his mind. Sam rested among the kit bags for a few hours before someone asked about its whereabouts.

20. Get Me To The Match On Time!
The Longford footballers had their patience well and truly tested in 2001. Forty minutes before their big day out against Dublin in Croke Park there was no sign of the team bus. Luckily they thumbed a lift off the Na Fianna Camogie team. When they arrived at Croker, kit on shoulders, security asked them some harsh questions. Bizarrely a mere six days later in the qualifier series against Wicklow they were again stranded. At the team hotel the panel waited out front while the bus waited out back. Again they lost.

Notable absentees would include the Effin Eddie phenomenon, Paul Donnelly throwing James McCartan’s boot into the crowd during an Ulster Championship clash, and a referee finding himself in the boot of a car after a contentious Wicklow club football match.