John Heslin: Not your standard modern day GAA player 10 months ago

John Heslin: Not your standard modern day GAA player

John Heslin is a different breed to the rest of us.

Colm Parkinson loves John Heslin. We should all love John Heslin.

"John Heslin is just great lads, isn't he," said 'Wooly' moments after the Westmeath man hung up the phone on their GAA Hour interview. It sounded like more of a chat than an interview.

"He's great craic John is. It's great to have someone like him who gives answers off the top of his head, and it's not like it's an interview where I've to be concerned what I say here," Parkinson added.

In an age when loads of GAA players shy away from talking to the media, Heslin is a breath of fresh air. He'll chat away, he'll have the craic, he'll joke, he'll slag. When Wooly went digging into St. Loman's tactics for their Leinster final at the weekend, he was pulled up. Wooly had met his match.

It's no bother to him answering a few questions; sure he'll just say what comes into his head. It's natural. It's not that standard cliched malarkey.

He's good aul' craic.

"I texted him last week, and I said 'John will you be able to come onto the show' because I thought the Leinster final was last week," began the Laois man.

"He says, 'Yeah, no problem.' I texted him back and I said, 'John I'm really sorry, the Leinster final is not until next week, so will you be okay taking the call the following Thursday?'

"He says, 'I'll have to check with the management.' ... He comes back then about 10 seconds later and he says 'It's okay'."

Advertisement

It's no wonder why. He's an extrovert, is Heslin. He'll rip the piss, he'll open up, he won't be holding anything back.

What you see is what you get.

This is a man who scored 2-16 for St. Loman's in a county semi-final. This is a man who scored a goal direct from the throw-in after 15 seconds of this year's county final.

This is the man who was last to leave Cusack Park, after cleaning the dressing rooms on that county final day.

He did that to  'prolong the moment, to enjoy it in the moment, because when you leave the grounds, you've another job on hand'.

Advertisement

This is a man who had underage soccer trials across the water with Derby but came home because he'd prefer to score a goal in Croke Park on Leinster final day. This is a man who gets into many a debate on Twitter about cattle, cows and grassland.

This is one of the best footballers in the country.

"He's set such a high standard," Westmeath and St. Loman's teammate Paul Sharry told us last week.

Sharry has faced the difficult task of picking up Heslin in posession games in training. It's never easy.

"He's ratty so he is, when you're marking him. You're sure you'll be getting into a scuffle at some stage. He'd be competitive, whether he's winning a ball or kicking a score, he'll be giving 100% himself, that's one thing for sure. You know if you're going into mark him, you'll end up in a row at some stage," said the Loman's midfielder with a laugh.

"He's top quality but he gets that from the standards he sets for himself. If I want to win every ball as well and both of us are competitive, you can expect to have a fight at some stage in training. That's all about standards. Young lads should take away that you always want to do your best," he added.

Advertisement

In fact, Sharry was good craic in this interview, too. Maybe there's something in the Mullingar water?

He always delivers on game-day, too. And you'd have to feel his laid-back attitude contributes to his ability to perform well at the top stage.

Heslin takes everything in his stride, and his attitude to raging hot favourites getting knocked out of Leinster shows this better than anything else.

"Someone came up to me on the pitch after the Mullinalaghta game and told me that Vincent's were beaten, and I gave them a stern response, I said 'I don't care who was beaten or what's that side of the draw'.'"

"It had nothing really and honestly to do with us, and I know, we were focusing on each game as it came, but Vincent's had nothing to do with us unless we got to a final, so we didn't have to worry about how Vincent's were doing, or how Rathnew were doing for that matterm" he said on The GAA Hour.

Indeed, the interview was a brilliant listen all round. Another highlight was his rasping dig at teammate Garrett Hickey who transferred to the Mullingar club from Offaly.

Wooly: I can’t let you go without talking about your imports because we talk about Vincent’s and we know Dublin club football gets loads of players…

Heslin: I thought you were talking about my cattle imports. The fucking cattle I’m after buying. You’re talking about people, is it?

Wooly: We’re talking about people, yeah. The people you’ve trafficked from Offaly to St. Loman’s.

Heslin: Trafficked..? I wouldn’t say that we went parading through Offaly looking to see who wanted to sign for the club. If we did, we probably would’ve picked a better player than Garett Hickey anyway.

Classic, classic stuff. John Heslin stuff.

We could all learn from him.