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22nd May 2021

“I could have scored that with wellies on!” – GAA fans up north get the news they were waiting for

Lee Costello

“Bend the back you bucking eejit”

Ah, the familiar sound of old fellas hurling abuse at you in GAA matches, it’s a glorious thing really. They do it because they care so much, they feel every tackle, every block and every score.

Their whole weekend depends on this result, it hinges on it, so you can forgive them for being less than constructive when they shout instructions leaning over a fence. “Take your scores,” “Give him a box,” “Don’t be kicking it away” and our personal favourite, “For f*** sake referee, are you blind?”

Then you have the young kids who are running up and down the sidelines kicking a ball to each other, mimicking their pitch heroes. Most of them aren’t even really watching the match, they’re too absorbed in their own little make-shift game.

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

They are there to soak up the atmosphere, to laugh and play with their friends; maybe even get to run onto the pitch to hand out the water bottles. It makes them feel involved, inspired and proud to be a part of their club, a part of the GAA.

Don’t forget about the nervous girlfriends and boyfriends biting every nail they have, hoping that their partner performs well, willing them to glory. The over-excited mothers who normally wouldn’t say anything bad about anyone, but now has a personal vendetta against that brute of a number 6 for hurting her ‘wee Johnny’.

Even though sport has returned, there was still something missing. The lack of thunder when a ball rocketed into the back of the net, or ironic cheers when a black card is produced for the opposition’s best player, a lack of something that sport is actually all about… fans.

To the euphoria of northerners, up to 500 fans are now allowed to attend GAA matches in Ulster as of Monday. It’s as though the curse has been lifted, the wicked witch of the west has melted and prosperity is once again on the horizon.

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

It was thought that the GAA were going to take an all-Ireland approach when allowing the fans to return to matches, which would have meant that Gaelic games would be the only sports in the north not allowed to have fans after Monday – which would be ridiculous.

Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and it’s not just club games that will see the return of fans, as county matches will soon have supporters flocking all over the north to watch their beloved teams.

Ulster GAA said it would issue guidance to counties early next week in relation to the attendance of spectators at Allianz League games in the ‘Six Counties’ which are taking place after May 24.

So get your scarves, your rain jackets, your jerseys and clear your throats, because you have a lot of shouting and cheering to catch up on. Packed lunches, flasks of tea, freshly cut grass – you can almost smell it already.


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