Eoin Madden Returns… in Gaelic Spirit

The wonderful Gerard Siggins tells us about his return to the brilliant and popular Rugby Spirit series with his latest book, Gaelic Spirit.

Eoin Madden had a verrrrrry long rugby season. The previous summer was spent helping Ireland win the mini-World Cup in London, and without much break he had a busy winter solving the mystery of the stolen World Cup and saving Lansdowne Road from disaster. To cap it all, he was flown off to New Zealand to play for the Lion Cubs…

So you might think he would need a rest?

That’s just not Eoin’s way!

No, our hero gets home to his parents in Co Tipperary and throws himself into action with his local GAA club, Ormondstown Gaels.

Gaelic and hurling were Eoin’s original passions but he had to lay them aside when he went to boarding school in Dublin. His rugby successes have been chronicled in the Rugby Spirit series but his return to his first love kicks off a new run of Eoin Madden adventures.

In Gaelic Spirit, Eoin gets up to his usual range of mischief, attracting trouble and solving mysteries. He also has some encounters with ghosts of long-dead sporting heroes and rediscovers his talent as a footballer and hurler. I love the idea of what sports coaches call ‘transferrable skills’ and how Eoin brings things he has learnt in rugby into Gaelic football. His skill as a hurler might make him a decent cricketer some day!

In a heart-stopping climax to Gaelic Spirit he visits Croke Park for the All-Ireland final and is shocked to watch the terrible events that happened there exactly one hundred years ago as if he had been there.

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Nearly 100 Things that Only GAA People Say

This autumn, with the release of Six Nations, Two Stories, The Balls.ie Guide to Life, and Punching Above Their Weight, we’ve a whole host of sports stories to entertain and inspire! To celebrate our athletic turn, this month’s blog post is an extract taken from The Balls.ie Guide to Life. Enjoy the highlights from ‘Nearly 100 Things that Only GAA People Say’:

A select few sayings and phrases have become enshrined in the vernacular of the GAA’s media, players and public. We don’t know how they got there, but we know they’re not going away. Some of them are stock sayings by Cyril Farrell and Ger Canning. Some are things you hear from auld lads in the terrace at a club match. Some you hear from the county manager or captain after a match. Combined, they make up the odd and illuminating vocabulary of the GAA.

Stuff Only GAA Fans Say

‘They’ve another fifteen on the line that are as good’ Regularly said about Kilkenny’s hurlers, and now Dublin’s footballers. Often followed by the words ‘… if not better’.

‘He was a great minor, but then the drink got him’ The most common (and probably correct) explanation for why blazing underage talent burns out before turning twenty-five.

‘Bend your back’ Usually said to a new underage player who has played a lot of soccer but not much GAA and has a tendency to dribble the ball ‘soccer style’.

‘He’s good, but the brother is better’ How often did we hear this about Alan and Bernard Brogan? Or Seamus and Aidan O’Shea?

Stuff Only GAA Players and Managers Say

‘A draw was the right result in the end’ Said after a highly competitive and entertaining game, usually because ‘neither team deserved to lose’.

‘What do you think of that, Joe Brolly?’ Perhaps the most modern GAA cliché.

‘They wrote us off during the week’ A common potshot by triumphant managers at members of the radio and press corps who offered fair-to-middling criticism of their team.

Stuff Only GAA Pundits and Commentators Say

‘Tight Pitch’ According to the rules of the game, all GAA pitches are of a standard size. But GAA fans know that’s not the case. A tight pitch is the toughest place to go: there’s no space to play, and the opposition fans are right on top of you. It’s generally cited as a factor for the underdog having a chance. Two famously tight pitches are St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge and Nowlan Park in Kilkenny.

‘Wide-open spaces’ The opposite of the tight pitch. The underdog fears the wide-open spaces of Croke Park and Semple Stadium that always seem to be opening up.

‘Gone to the well’ When it comes to crunch time in the Championship, you don’t just dig deep, you go to the well. No team has gone to the well more down the years than Brian Cody and Kilkenny, particularly before said All-Ireland final replay.

The GAA Winners Speech

‘A hUachtarán, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael, taoiseach …’ No great (or even mediocre) speech can begin without dropping a cúpla focal as an act of deference to the assembled dignitaries and GAA bureaucrats.

‘To the sponsors: we couldn’t have done it without you, lads’ There is no greater faux pas than to omit mention of the team sponsor. And while you’re at it, thank the bus company, the restaurant that provides the post-match carvery, the water-bottle supplier, and the lady who makes the tea.

‘Finally, three cheers for the losers. Hip hip!’ The celebrations cannot really begin until the captain has issued some sort of semi-patronising acknowledgement to the losing side.

The Balls.ie Guide to Life will be available from 28 September.