The grim reality of being an amateur GAA player during a Twitter storm 6 years ago

The grim reality of being an amateur GAA player during a Twitter storm

We really do lose the run of ourselves sometimes.

During the championship, Ireland descends into a viciously tribal land where a Twitter storm is only a daily byproduct of the hatred that consumes the place all summer.


You can't talk about how brilliantly Aidan O'Shea is playing, when he's playing as brilliantly as he is now, without gravely offended the rest of the country who'd accuse you of licking his hole and claim he's more worried about taking selfies.

You can't say how class Dublin are because f**k Dublin and all the money they have and the size of their population and getting to play in Croke Park every bloody week.

You can't point out the imbalance in the championship structure - that Monaghan have won four games already and they're now in the same round as Galway - who have won just one game. That would be seen as a dig at Galway.

You can't even point out that Diarmuid Connolly pushed a linesman because, if you do, you obviously have a shameless agenda.


Anything goes during war time. Men will be defended to the hilt for whatever they've done but their names will also be dragged through the dirt as often and as recklessly as different camps want to because winning is all that matters.

That's what it feels like and anything that can be done to gain an edge seems justified at the time - anything to get inside a head or get someone a suspension - but when we're talking about amateur sports stars, winning is not the only thing that counts.

They're playing elite level football so, yes, they should expect to be analysed. When they do something wrong, it's going to be pointed out but, God, maybe we should take a step away from this bubble of GAA we live in sometimes and realise that life is going on outside of it.


These boys have work to go to the next day. They have families and other hobbies away from their 90-minute training sessions and 70-minute games. But, for some, they almost have to go into hiding because of the way the abuse and the stories escalate.

Sometimes, it's over the head of one pundit telling a pointless story about a footballer taking pictures with kids during a challenge game outing.

Aidan O'Shea admitted that he had to avoid social media after another Twitter storm erupted because he did something nice and took time out for young children who looked up to him. As he says himself, he used to be one of those guys going to games and hoping to get a chance to meet one of the players so why is it a bad thing that he'd be courteous now?


Tiernan McCann is another one who got caught up in it all .

Back in 2015, McCann was at the centre of what we call a Twitter storm because of a piece of simulation he completely regrets.

He doesn't call himself a victim because it was his own actions but it does not sound pleasant then having to deal with all the backlash that comes with it. Especially when it's relentless.


The Tyrone man gave an absolutely brilliant interview on The GAA Hour on Monday and spoke about that time.

"My parents were away on holiday and they're the people who are biologically programmed to pick you up when you're down like that," McCann said.

"It affected my work too - I had to deal with the public a lot. It was tough, I'm not going to lie.

"It's very, very difficult to delete Twitter. It took me like half a day to go through all the tweets - they were coming through every couple of seconds. People say, 'then why read them' but you know what's going on and when they're coming through to your phone, what do you do?

"The Diarmuid Connolly thing... one person says something and then everyone's on the bandwagon. That's the modern world we live in.

"I haven't been back on Twitter since. I know it can be very useful for scores and getting people's thoughts in 140 characters but it's a platform for people to directly give you abuse so I don't know why anyone would put up with that to be honest."