Why everyone needs to stop using the word 'shadowboxing' in GAA 3 months ago

Why everyone needs to stop using the word 'shadowboxing' in GAA

We need to throw the towel in on this one.

The word 'shadowboxing' has now joined the long list of overused clichés in Gaelic football, and as tempting as it is to throw these popular phrases out there, this one actually doesn't make any sense.


Now, before you continue reading, I understand more than most that nothing makes you as unpopular as correcting someone's grammar or phrasing, and I completely get that this pet peeve is as irrational as it is irrelevant, however, I need to get it off my chest.

The new format in Gaelic football now involves four pots of four, with three teams able to go through to the next round based on their seeding in that group.

This inevitably has led to so-called championship games, being a bit flat, and lacking the same intensity and manic energy that you would normally expect, and it's all because the threat of elimination isn't really there.

Shadowboxing GAA


Ultimately there is very little consequence to losing one of these games. In fact, you could lose two in a row and as long as you've beaten at least one team, then you're pretty much through.

With this being the case, pundits, journalists, presenters, and just about everyone, have been describing these matches as a "bit of shadowboxing".

What they mean is, teams are holding back a little, not going full tilt or 'showing their hand' to use a more apt cliché.

However, it doesn't actually make any sense. Shadowboxing is a drill that a fighter does on their own in order to warm up, get a sweat on, or work on certain combinations. It's actually quite intense and high paced.


Shadowboxing GAA

There is no one else in the ring, you aren't facing anyone, you aren't holding back, you are simply practising. It's no different than a golfer going to the driving range or a forward going to the pitch with a bag of balls to work on their kicking.

So to use it in the context of two teams competing against one another, but holding something back, doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

In the sport of boxing, they often do what's called 'touch sparring' where two fighters get in the ring, try to find openings in each other's defences, and when they do, they give a tap or light punch to let their opponent know that they could have been stung there.


They are technically sparring one another, but holding back and not going full throttle - so this would be the perfect analogy used if you were set on using boxing terminology.

Shadowboxing GAA

Now I know that this is nit-picky, snooty and probably a little pretentious, but as someone who consumes every article, podcast, interview and highlights programme about football, I am (melodramatically) at breaking point.

The biggest problem in the game right now is the long bouts of possession that teams are racking up in order to frustrate their opponents and bore the life out of fans, and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that this annoys me less than the 'shadowboxing' term.

The good news is that the group stages are almost over, so proper knockout football will be upon us soon, and teams won't be pulling any punches - now THAT is how you use a boxing cliché.


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