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05th Mar 2018

The corner back who tells people he’s a half back and 7 other characters in your GAA team

Conan Doherty

We can get a little carried away with ourselves in the GAA world.

We all like to think we’re better than what we are – well, it’s not that we think it, we just tell people so.

The only reason some of us do anything is to tell people. I remember I used to think women I liked actually gave a toss about what sport I played and how well I played it – or how well I told them I played it.

Either they couldn’t have cared less, or I just played it so badly that they lost interest anyway because it didn’t bloody work.

GAA fields up and down the country have the same characters and same motivations and here are some of the best of them.

1. The corner back who tells people he’s a half back

Leon Young 9/10/2016

He’s more than just a man-marker, more than just a spoiler. He’s a footballer and he’ll do everything in his power to convince you of that from taking off on an adventure upfield at any half opportunity to shooting on sight and, of course, wearing flashy boots to show he’s wasted in the corner.

At best, he’ll tell you he’s “a half back but playing corner back at the minute”.

At worst, he’ll tell you he’s not playing anymore if he has to play corner back.

2. The sub that thinks they should be playing

Nemo subs reacting to their win 28/10/2007

Doesn’t so much give a reason for why they should be playing but will tell you everything you need to know about why the 15 guys on the field should NOT be playing.

This player wants to play by default.

3. The starter that thinks they should be a sub

Doesn’t want the pressure. Doesn’t need it.

Got back involved with the club for social reasons more than anything. Wanted to play a bit of reserves and enjoy themselves but is being whipped and roared at and told that every touch of a football could make or break all of their lives.


4. The sicknote that thinks he’s injured

If it’s not his hamstring he’s feeling, it’s his knees or his back or anything that will do.

The thing with these guys is that you can’t help but feel some sort of sympathy for them because, even though they’re perfectly fine, they have convinced themselves that they’re genuinely injured.

They’re not, of course. What they call injured is what another man calls stiff.


5. The reserve who thinks he’s impressing the manager

Sprinting ahead of everyone in the warm-up, getting to the drill first, telling boys to be quiet while you’re doing your stretches.

A leader of men.

Not that the manager cares.

6. The big lad who thinks the jerseys are too tight

Colin Corkery 17/3/2003

Yeah, it’s the jerseys.

7. The guy who thinks he doesn’t need gloves

Pissing down outside outside but he “plays better without gloves”.

It’s a handy excuse anyway when your kicking passing goes astray and you can roar over to the bench, “get me a pair of gloves, for f**k’s sake”.

8. The one that thinks that, if they don’t follow their rituals, they might die

A general view of the changing rooms 17/1/2008

If you don’t take everything out your bag the way you usually do, if you don’t wear two pairs of socks or sit in the same spot in the changing room or sit on the toilet at the time you have set aside, there’s a chance that the world might stop and you’ll lose this game of football.

If you don’t bless yourself or put on your jersey at the right time – not too early, of course – and if you’re not the last person out of the changing room, then what was the point of all those months of training? You might as well have not bothered if you’re not going to obey your superstitions.

Dick Clerkin makes his GAA Hour debut to talk about a wonderful career and argue passionately with Colm Parkinson over Sky Sports GAA. Subscribe here on iTunes.

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