Enda McNulty on how Al Pacino speech was theme for Armagh's All-Ireland win 6 months ago

Enda McNulty on how Al Pacino speech was theme for Armagh's All-Ireland win

"The inches we need are everywhere around us."

Enda McNulty reveals how Al Pacino's famous 'inches' speech from Any Given Sunday was used as a theme for the Armagh team that won the All-Ireland in 2002.


McNulty is a renowned sports psychologist and author, but back in '02 he was corner back for Armagh's greatest ever team, and even picked up an All-Star that season.

That year they left no stone unturned in terms of their preparation, and the rousing speech from the blockbuster movie was often played and used as a reference point throughout the year.

Enda McNulty

You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small. I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it.

One half second, too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second.


With his background as a performance coach, working with some of the best teams and athletes in the world, McNulty reveals the thinking behind finding a 'theme' and its purpose.

"It was a mentality, how do you achieve something big in life? - you break it down," McNulty told the GAA Hour.

Enda McNulty

"How do you win the marathon, you break it into 10 metre strides or whatever it is, and Hugh Campbell and Des Canning at this stage thought that they shouldn't hype up this All-Ireland, let's break it right down.

"It's every tackle, every block, every play that you go on, and I think 'Inches' worked really well for us that year. I think a team using that 'Inches' speech but not knowing the context would actually make it a bit of a laughing stock.


"We know that in the last week Ronan O'Gara and La Rochelle used the 'Everest' theme and it's become famous around the rugby world, and sporting folklore since the Heineken Cup final.

"In Leinster, we used to theme the seasons back in the early years as well - I think the theme is actually irrelevant. I think the theme needs to mean something to the players.

Enda McNulty

"So whether that's 'Everest,' 'Inches,' or whatever, it needs to be meaningful for the players. It's something that players buy into.


"Imagine going to a group of young 22-year-old ladies footballers, and saying 'here is your theme, it's about inches,' and you're watching Al Pacino - they might go, 'what the hell are these old men talking about?'

"It's about finding something personable, something relevant and something memorable, and something that is highly motivational."

The Armagh legend wanted to stress something about these themes and speeches that is important to know for teams trying to adopt them.

Enda McNulty

"I also think that it's over rated. I know that's a bit controversial, but if you haven't done the training, if you're not fit enough, if you don't know the game plan, if you're not able to execute the basic skills under significant pressure, if you don't have leaders on the pitch that are going to do it anyway - to be honest, a lot of the speeches in my time, I don't remember.

"99.9% of them I don't remember. I remember Joe Kernan's famous speech in '02, I remember Dessie Ryan's speech in a Sigerson final at half time, but the rest of them - I cant remember.


"I played with some of the best players in a generation, I played against them, I played Railway Cup finals in Paris, and a lot of the speeches I don't remember.

"The speeches are overrated, the training and the preparation is where it's at."

Related links: