Five images from 2021 that capture what the GAA is all about 11 months ago

Five images from 2021 that capture what the GAA is all about

What a year it has been.

It isn't all kicking last-minute scores in Croke Park to win your county the All-Ireland, sometimes the most magical moments can be found in the mundane, everyday things.

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A GAA match isn't just confined to 60 or 70 minutes, it's about the car or train journey down with your friends and family, the chatter among fans before throw-in, bumping into friends and relatives, packing ham sandwiches, wearing your team's colours, and switch from jumping and shouting, to sitting silently with a laser focus on the game.

The journey home is filled with talk about player reviews, gossip from within the team camp that only you heard through your cousin's friend who is a physio for the squad, and of course, summarising that this time, you did in fact see the worst referee you have ever seen in your life.

With the camera's firmly focused on the action on the pitch, it isn't often that you get to see these glorious glimpses in the stands, but throughout 2021, Sportsfile captured some fantastic ones.

5. The burger van.

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Obviously, we all love a fancy meal in an expensive restaurant, but there is something to be said for a greasy bag of chips, smothered in salt being shared amongst the family after a long drive.

Especially when the weather is cold, your hands are frozen and the pipping hot brown bag of goodies is acting as a hot water bottle, providing you with warmth and comfort, as well as filling your empty bellies.

4. You never forget your first game.

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You've seen them on the telly, you watched your club play, but you always remember your first county game.

Walking arm in arm from your car which had to be parked ages away, a backpack full of sweets and treats you know you'll be munching on later, and the noise is like nothing you have ever heard.

You can see mummys and daddys everywhere screaming, jumping and shouting hooray, even saying the odd bad word with absolutely no consequence whatsoever.

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It's like you just found a new special place where the rules are different, better in fact, and you can feel the whole mood of the place sway, completely dependant on how well your team is doing.

Win or lose though, you're still getting ice cream afterwards, so it's a real win-win situation for you.

3. The matchday programme.

It's a sacred piece of literature that sparks much of the discussion of the pre-match amble, whether it's about the team selection, the manager's notes, or even just the fact that you can't believe you paid nearly €10 for it.

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They are durable books, and for good reason, because throughout the game, nervous men and women who don't know how to vent their frustrations or nerves will roll, rip, or smack the programme repeatedly throughout the entire match.

Of course, the really inventive fans can use it to protect themselves from the sun on scorching hot days.

2. If there's a will, there's a way.

Even a global pandemic isn't enough to stop these wily GAA fans from watching their team in action.

They may not have been allowed to attend this game early in the year, but they found other methods to safely, and proactively support their side.

1. The banners.

Some are clever, some are crude, but some really hit the nail on the head and capture exactly what the GAA means for these fans.

Young Clough Ballacolla supporters are seen here trying together their message onto the big screen so that the whole country can know just how proud of their team they are.