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28th Dec 2022

Top 10 GAA stories of 2022: Tears, jeers and never trash-talk David Clifford

Patrick McCarry

David Clifford

Glad to see the Kerry captain in there, amidst the madness and arguments.

2022 has seen a host of uplifting and altogether brilliant GAA stories, with David Clifford and Shane Walsh putting on one hell of an All-Ireland Final show right up there.

Looking back at the top GAA stories on SportsJOE this year, though, there is a mix of that brilliance, dashed in with poignant speeches, ugly flash-points, real characters and the end of one big punditry era.

Here were the biggest stories on our site in 2022:

10. After all the mouthing, Padraig O’Hora admits defeat and pays his respects to outrageous David Clifford

David Clifford

“If we learned anything today,” wrote Niall McIntyre, back in April, “it’s that, joining a long list of other failed containment plans, mouthing is not the thing that’s going to stop David Clifford.”

Padraig O’Hora tried to get under Clifford’s skin, in the Allianz Football League Final, and the Kingdom star notched 1-5 from play.

9. Damien Comer targeted in brutal, chaotic Armagh and Galway brawl

David Clifford

Seconds after Rian O’Neill had superbly equalised for Armagh against Galway, a spat that centred around Damien Comer soon escalated. In the midst of the melee, Comer appeared to be raked across the face, with contact made with his eyes.

“Disgraceful scenes,” added Pat Spillane. “A shame on all the players involved. There was a gouging incident… Holy God.”

8. Limerick’s Gearóid Hegarty jokes that the lads were ‘disgusted’ about their physiques being shared over social media

David Clifford

During the summer, our Lee Costello caught up with Limerick star Gearóid Hegarty and asked about an unmistakable photo from his team’s victorious dressing room that was doing the rounds.

“We had a bit of craic on the bus, on the way home from the Munster final all right. The boys were (air quotes) ‘devastated’ that it went up on social media.

“Mike and Sean, they were inconsolable that it went up – they were ‘disgusted’ that there was a picture of them flexing,” joked Hegarty.

7. “You can’t say that. That’s sort of Jim McGuinness nonsense” – O’Rourke and Cavanagh drawn into bar-stool talk

Back in May, Sean Cavanagh and Colm O’Rourke got into it when the former Tyrone star mentioned Donegal’s Michael Murphy as the stand-out footballer of the past decade. In part, their argument played out like this:

O’ROURKE: But you can’t say that either and that’s sort of Jim McGuinness nonsense as well. The best players of the last decade are those who have performed at the highest possible level on a continuous basis in semi-finals and finals. Not in Clones, not in Ballybofey.

CAVANAGH: Michael Murphy can’t be winning ball in midfield, he can’t be scoring 1-6 every single game because against the best teams, they nullify the best players.

O’ROURKE: Yes, but then he’s not the best players.

6. Pat Spillane ranks the top 30 GAA players in the game right now

David Clifford

There was no space for any of the 2021 champions Tyrone, while only one Armagh player made the cut. David Clifford topped Spillane’s list, with three Dublin stars in his Top 5. You can read the full list here.

5. “To the supporters, and the wags!” – Kilmeena captain Sean Ryder gives one of the great Croke Park speeches

‘From the minute Sean Ryder let a big ‘wooooooh’ out of him on the steps of the Hogan stand,’ Niall McIntyre wrote, ‘you knew this was going to be good.’

Just before he hoisted the All-Ireland junior trophy, Sean Ryder of Kilmeena delivered one hell of a victory speech.

4. “Hurling’s a great game, but it’s not everything” – Davy Fitzgerald on Paul Shefflin tragedy

David Clifford

On a day were so many were numb, raw, and still coming to terms with the tragic and sudden death of Paul Shefflin, there were some fine words spoken, on RTÉ, by Brian Cody, Davy Fitzgerald, Damian Lawlor and Jackie Tyrrell. Fitzgerald commented:

“You look at his list there – three club All-Irelands, a real great clubman, a coach and a treasurer there. I played against Paul a few times. A tough cookie, but a gentleman off the hurling field. It’s such a sad, sad day for a community like Ballyhale that have had a lot of tragedies, down through the years.”

3. Brian Cody doesn’t entertain Anthony Nash question about Henry managing Galway

Brian Cody

Ahead of an upcoming Leinster final clash against Kilkenny, Anthony Nash went fishing for a good Henry Shefflin line from Kilkenny boss Brian Cody. He got this in response:

“Well we’re playing Galway,” he said, quick as a flash, “That’s the way we look at it.”

Shut down. Moving on.

2. “He’d have been a proud man” – Pat Spillane breaks down in tears on final Sunday Game appearance

David Clifford

It was fitting that Pat Spillane brought the curtain down on his long and lively television punditry career by getting to wax lyrical on Kerry winning another All-Ireland title.

“My father never saw us play, the three sons,” he reflected. “They have 19 All-Ireland medals and his two grand-sons today, Killian and Adrian, have two more.

“He’d have been a proud man to see his family get 21 All-Ireland senior medals. He’d have been a proud man.”

1. Cutting through the contradictions from one of the worst television segments of the year

David Clifford

Our biggest story of the year, and one that hit upon that old GAA chestnut – club vs. county.

Donal Óg Cusack, Anthony Daly and Liam Sheedy got stuck in, but our Niall McIntyre was far from impressed.

‘That club vs county debate, for the time being anyway, is dead in the water,’ he wrote. ‘It’s spilt milk and, for anyone that isn’t a pundit on The Sunday Game, it’s for another day. And that’s being generous.’

There was a huge response to that piece, with many agreeing to the sentiment.

Still, expect more club vs. county chatter in 2023. The more the world changes, the more GAA remains the same.

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