Colm Parkinson will never forget Liam Griffin's speech to the Laois footballers in the 90s
There's a part of Liam Griffin's Laochra Gael that Colm Parkinson simply couldn't believe.
It comes early on in the programme when, recalling Griffin's first speech as Wexford manager, George O'Connor grades it as a 1/10 effort.
"Who's going to tell us about stats and what you should and shouldn't do," O'Connor remarks of his attitude back then, "We've been doing this for the last 20/30 years and this know-all is coming in telling us what to do."
But as O'Connor and teammate Liam Dunne later admit, the team's reservations were more of a reflection on the Wexford players, than it was on their newly appointed manager.
"Maybe there was a bit of a macho about it in that we thought we know what it took. Obviously we didn't," says Dunne.
Parkinson has heard the stories about Griffin's speech on Leinster final day back in '96, when the manager and his players walked out of Wexford into Wicklow and made a promise that they wouldn't return home without a cup.
On the morning of the '96 Leinster final, the Wexford hurlers walked out of their county together.
To a man, they promised that they wouldn't return home, without the cup.
Liam Griffin delivered the iconic team-talk. By that evening, Wexford were Leinster champions once more. pic.twitter.com/atNetITITI
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) May 19, 2020
But his mind goes back to later on in the '90s, when the charismatic Griffin had the Laois football team hanging on his every word in the Montague Hotel in Portlaoise.
"The theme of your speech from my memory," says Wooly, "was the commitment level that's needed to win an All-Ireland. You were up on the stage and you were very funny, giving a great speech and you ended up telling us about this athlete, who trained every day, maybe sometimes twice a day, watched what they ate.
"You laid out this week of commitment for this athlete and you made us guess what sport was this athlete playing. I remember thinking it was a boxer. And then Liam, you said, it was a contestant on Gladiators. 'Fucking Gladiators lads." If that's what they're doing, what do you think you should be doing to win an All-Ireland?
Gladiators was a popular tv show at the time, where contestants competed against each other in a number of physical challenges and to Griffin, if reality tv personalities were giving that much, then potential All-Ireland winners shouldn't be complaining about a few laps of the field.
"I remember that. I was reading this thinking 'Holy shit.' We were talking about two laps of the field, and then we're all tired!"
"I remember that 20 years later," adds Wooly,"and it's just the way you were able to get your point across."
Griffin has always had a way with words, as he showed once again at the start of today's GAA Hour.
Colm Parkinson: I'm surprised it's taken you so long to feature on Laochra Gael Liam.
Liam Griffin: Well I'm surprised I'm on it Colm to be quite honest and I'm not saying this to be falsely modest...I'm a one-in-a-row All-Ireland winning manager.
Liam Griffin is just that inspirational, that he has Wooly raring to pick up his hurl and go pucking 🏑
- After the famine, the feast! There are too many matches on the tele...
- Jamie Clarke does what he wants #Wooly4GAAPresident
🎧 👇https://t.co/4XELtbbO8q pic.twitter.com/hoVrTlBcte
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) April 29, 2021
The interview lasts for 50 passionate minutes and by the end of it, you'd be raring to go out and puck the ball off the wall. Griffin's pride of place is clear as day and while he has huge respect and admiration for what Davy Fitzgerald has done, he feels that as a point of note, Wexford should be able to produce their own hurling manager.
"I think Davy did a great job for Wexford. He got us out of the second division which was vital, to be playing at the top level. We needed to be in the top level, and his biggest achievement was winning Leinster. But what I would say, is that it's shameful that Wexford can't find a manager.
"We had a great tradition. Why shouldn't we be able to rear our own manager? Why do we have to go for outsiders. That's no disrespect whatsoever to Davy, I respect that he has his own entourage too but we need Wexford people heavily involved in that game...there's no outsider that's going to get in under the bed when we lose and that's the feeling you have to have. You have to feel the pain. I know that Davy feels the pain and I'm not suggesting he doesn't, but the real pain is when you have that purple and gold running through your veins. It has to hurt the management as well."