"If you were getting too tight, you'd get a box into the chest" - How the best forwards shut the trash talkers up
The only difference between forwards and backs, as Darran O'Sullivan will tell you, is that forwards are that little bit cuter.
They're cute as foxes and, as many long-suffering defenders will tell you, they're nowhere near as innocent as they let onto be. O'Sullivan himself has asked defenders, among other things, if they're enjoying the view of his behind and while many of them have the whiter than white act going on, in the grand scheme these boys give as good as they get.
Don't doubt that, for example, David Clifford played his part in riling Padraig O'Hora up during the second half last weekend. O'Hora was caught in the act though, his mouth running on televisions all over Ireland while Clifford, cute as they come, came away with a halo over his head. Welcome to the back's world.
Between them, Finian Hanley and Eamon McGee have marked many of the best forwards in the game and while, in trying to enter their heads, the boys have tried plenty, they've gotten tight, they've given a few digs, they're both in agreement that the best forwards in the game need no help in looking after themselves.
They're well able to do that themselves.
"McManus and McBrearty would turn around to you and they'd go 'you're crap. you're shite," recalls Hanley.
"They'll tell you 'you're this that and the other,' and that 'I'm going to do this to ya,' and all that."
"This doesn't define Padraig O'Hora. I seen it on social media yesterday, people making this judgement call on his overall character. He's a good guy and people should remember that." - Eamon McGee pic.twitter.com/Ho3pV4exC5
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) April 4, 2022
Hanley, who won an All-Ireland club title with Salthill Knocknacarra before representing Ireland as an International Rules captain, said he rarely went with the verbals because, most of the time, his hands were full as it was.
"I had enough problems going into the full back line on any day. Do you know, you're going in on Michael Murphy, McManus, Donaghy, Mike Meehan and these guys (mouthing is the last thing you want to be worrying about.)
"Donaghy, for example, he wouldn't say much. Mike Meehan the same but they'd be dirty enough, they'd be physical, you might get a box and they'd just keep going," he says.
"If you were getting too tight on Mike Meehan, you'd get a box into the chest and then he'd move away and that was it, he'd move away from you. Donaghy wouldn't be talking to you, he'd just be rallying the troops around you.
"Donaghy would out-talk you to his own team-mates and Andy Moran the same - they'd annoy ya with talk and organising their team and you'd be going 'this lad won't ever shut up!"
Eamon McGee can relate to the Galway man because, particularly in the 2014 All-Ireland final, he had his own tussles with the Kerryman.
"Donaghy, I found, you could get into a wrestling match no bother with him and many a wrestling match we got into but there was just no point sledging him. It was water off a duck's back to him and certain characters are like him. It could have turned on you and gave him even more motivation," the Gaoth Dobhair man says.
In a previous interview on The GAA Hour, McGee, who had a quick tongue of his own, says that from different players, his verbals would get different responses.
"With Sean Cavanagh, he would react which is what you wanted. But he would keep on coming back...that's the thing about him, you could never keep him down."
On the other hand, McGee always felt that Diarmuid Connolly was there to be got at when it came to the war of words.
"It's been a while since I was marking him but Connolly was always a man I felt took the bait fairly handy in terms of verbals. I remember in a League game, I was at him and he went out of his way to try get one over on me and he got blown for steps a few times and that. I knew then that he was getting annoyed and he was pushing out. He matured and he got wiser as the years went on..."