Tomás Ó Sé's drinking story with Jack O'Connor's young son sums up GAA alcohol problems
The drinking culture in the GAA is wrong on so many levels.
Some of our players take it too far. There's one group of lads who don't make any sacrifices for their team and will not allow their commitments to a GAA team to hold them back from going out on the beer - they'll drink the night before a match without having any qualms about it.
These lads obviously won't be in peak physical condition to play a match but that won't stop them. This is wrong.
Other lads are the complete other end of the stick. These are a group of lads won't let so much as a drop of alcohol pass their lips in the build-up to a game. They abstain with the team in mind, but they always have a light at the end of the tunnel.
They know that once they play their game, or do their important training session, they're free to drink again, and as a result of the commitment they made, they will treat themselves and go out on an almighty bender.
Therein lise a huge problem in the GAA. The culture is so much against drinking, that when the lads get a moment of freedom, they feel compelled to binge-drink.
This goes a long way to explaining why many GAA players go on some crazy drinking sessions that can be so detrimental to their health.
We all saw photos of the British and Irish Lions players having a few bottles just days before their third and vital test against New Zealand.
Some of us were questioning their behaviour, claiming that if a GAA player did the same, they would be a shame to their county.
That's true and that's the problem. The culture of complete abstinence is the reason for their madness when they get an opportunity.
Tomás Ó Sé's column in Saturday's Irish Independent hit the nail on the head. Ó Sé feels that the GAA culture which almost brands a single drink as blasphemy is the root cause for GAA players doing so much damage to themselves when they actually drink.
It's all or nothing for them.
"Rugby and soccer players can socialise like adults, because they don’t face the same expectation to remain abstemious that GAA players face. As a consequence, they can have their three or four beers routinely and leave it at that.
That’s the difference. He (A rugby or soccer player) might do that every single week and it’s not going to harm him in the slightest. A GAA county man might go socialising three times in six months but, every time he does, it’s like Armageddon for his vital organs.
O Sé recalled a classic story when Jack O'Connor was manager of the Kerry footballers that sums up this problem. Kerry were out in Vilamoura on a team holiday at the time, and were about to go into town for a few beers when O'Connor rocked up with his young son.
“Where are ye off to lads?” asked Jack.
“Heading go-karting Jack!” said Ó Sé and his comrades.
“Great idea boys, would ye mind bringing Cian along with ye?”
“Yeah, no hassle Jack!," said the lads
"Soon as Jack walks off, we turn to Cian. "Cian away you go now, we’re not going go-karting at all!"
The Kerry lads went out on a mad one, missed a gym session and in training the next morning were getting beaten by a sub-goalie as Jack O'Connor sent them running.
It's all or nothing for many of our GAA players, but sometimes we'd be a lot better off being in the middle of the road.