IN A column on the back of the “Irish Times” last Monday, Brian O’Connor, a horse racing journalist, wrote a piece about Gaelic football and hurling people under the heading “Elite GAA players giving everything for nothing.”
He asked why Lar Corbett, for example, would want to “flog his guts out around a field in Thurles for nothing.”
Great goals per chance? Unforgettable memories? The joy of being very good at something you love doing? No, what Brian means by “nothing” is that if you don’t get money for something, then you are getting nothing.
It is the philosophy that brought us the Celtic Tiger. Forget the thrill of doing your best. Of being super-fit and healthy. Forget the precious journey with your team mates. It seems that people like myself have got “nothing” from the GAA.
Instead, we have been exploited and hoodwinked. Like the workers in the Apple Factories in Asia, we have been harnessed to the plough by an evil and manipulative hierarchy.
Greed is good. Money is the only thing that matters. Satisfaction and loyalty and pulling together in one cause is for the gombeen men of the GAA. The centrepiece of Brian’s argument is, and I quote: “In the real world, there’s a word for someone who works like a dog for nothing and that word is gobshite.”
Meanwhile, rugby is great. The D4 lads are glittering examples of what we could only dream of being. Brian has stars in his eyes as he writes “If more than three high profile Leinster players go into a Donnybrook pub on a Friday evening, it can quickly resemble backstage on a Stones tour. Our heroes have their pick of as much South Dublin totty as their tongues can cope with.”
The man is clearly overcome with the very thought of spending time socialising with Drico and Johnno. What he wouldn’t give just to gaze upon them as they text Horgsy on their new i-Phones while they wait for the barman to assemble the champagne glass pyramid.
Because they get paid, the girls want them. ‘Hello’ magazine weddings, an agent, plenty of time to go clothes shopping and to practise on the play-station: Life doesn’t get any better.
Meanwhile, the GAA lads grunt when they come into the bar, have a few pints, sing some ‘Saw Doctors,’ fight and go bright red with embarrassment if girls talk to them. When they eventually get married, their wives will wait for them coming home from the pub with a rolling pin. The cartoons in ‘The Ireland’s Own’ are real.
A lot of journalists extol the virtues of sport as a business. This is because it makes sense to them. The GAA, meanwhile, makes them uncomfortable. They look on us suspiciously. We are a bit of a sacred cow. “Smug” is the word Brian uses about us. The amateur ideal is described by him as “aspirational cant.” A million hypocrites.
Sport and Business
I’m not so sure about the marriage of sport and business. Money tends to corrupt. It spoils things. The last 10 days brings us a snapshot. In no particular order, there was the Taxman v Next English manager, the one where ‘Arry forgot about the account he set-up in Monaco in his dog’s name!
Then there was the Old Bailey Trial of Mervyn Westfield, the Essex fast bowler. He was found guilty of accepting bribes to spot fix, allegedly, with the help of another cricketer, Danish Kaneria from Pakistan. While saying “I am happy to co-operate with the English police in relation to this matter,” Danish has, in fact, made himself unavailable to the Old Bill.
It is quite hard for the ‘Met’ to pursue an investigation against him when he has gone back to Pakistan and has no plans to return. Perhaps Danish is mindful of the fate of his three old Pakistani team mates, currently serving their corruption sentences in HMP Wandsworth.
Then there is the administration of Rangers, where £24 million has gone missing or, as the official administrator put it at a few days ago, “has not been visible to us.”
Take your pick from 20 other sordid examples. What about Alberto Contador, stripped of his 2010 Tour de France crown and banned by the Court of Arbitration for drugs offences? Or the administration of Portsmouth FC, for the second time in three years. Or the Suarez situation, where he was finally forced to apologise only because the club’s sponsor ‘Standard Chartered’ insisted.
They feared that to allow the situation to fester was “potentially harmful to the Standard Chartered Brand.” This immediately prompted a grovelling and obviously false apology, which was written for Suarez by a club lawyer for fear he might use a word that is a term of affection in South America but means something very different here.
Closer to home, Derry City are unable to play in next season’s Europa League because of a three year ban imposed after they went bankrupt in 2009.
Then there are the money grabbing owners, sponsors and badge kissing players (“It’s always been my dream to play for this great club”). At the bottom of this huge pile of gobshite - for want of a better word - are the ordinary supporters, who give their loyalty but get none in return.
I have taken the liberty of preparing a list of GAA gobshites for the back page of next Monday’s “Times.” These represent the worst sort of gobshite, since they have not only loved every minute of getting nothing from the games, but have openly criticised the idea of paying managers or players:
1. Brian Cody, Kilkenny - 5 All-Irelands as a player, eight as a manager. Said last week: “I choose to do this. It’s not even remotely a sacrifice. It’s the same with players. I read often about the savage commitment and sacrifices inter-county players make. I don’t feel sorry for inter-county players. I envy them. No way should we be paid.” A serious gobshite.
2. Crossmaglen Rangers GAC - 5 All-Ireland club titles. (Afraid to criticise them for fear of umbrella reprisal)
3. Henry Shefflin, Kilkenny - 8 senior All-Irelands, 2 club All-Irelands, 10 All-Stars. What a loser!
4. Pat Gilroy, Dublin manager - Senior All-Ireland both as player and manager. All-Ireland club title as a player. Married with a young family. Sad
5. Mickey Harte, Tyrone - 3 senior All-Irelands as a manager. Joker.
6. Liam Sheedy, Tipperary - All-Ireland winning hurling manager 2010.
7. Philip Jordan, Tyrone - 3 senior All-Irelands, 4 All-Stars. An accountant doing something for nothing?
8. Kilkenny hurlers - Donal Og famously described the eight time champions as “Stepford Wives” because they refused to support the GPA.
9. Liam Rushe - Dublin hurler and current All-Star.
10. Tony McEntee, Armagh & Crossmaglen - 3 All-Ireland club titles as a player, one as a manager (soon to be two). Senior All-Ireland winner with Armagh in 2002.
I looked upthe word “gobshite” in the dictionary. The definition given is “Loud-mouthed person who talks a lot, but nothing with any value – a person with excrement coming out of their gob.”
Who exactly is the Gobshite?
Joe Brolly wrties in the Journal every Friday