Analysis: we all know the lines, but what were the circumstances and occasions which provoked these reactions?

Famous GAA quotes are often attributed to commentators who expertly narrate the game as it happens. But many memorable one liners come from players and managers as they communicate their opinions in the build-up to big games and their emotions immediately after a match. Many one-liners have become both cherished and infamous in equal measure and used as captivating headlines across many media platforms. However, it is important to recognise their context, which can present a deeper understanding of the circumstances and occasions which provoked these reactions.

'Well Joe Brolly, what do you think of that?'

Kerry's All-Ireland win in 2014 quashed speculation from TV pundit Joe Brolly that the team were in a period of transition given the lack of underage success and "the production line grinding to a halt in the Kerry football factory". After playing a pivotal role and scoring a goal that drove Kerry on to victory, full forward Kieran Donaghy was interviewed by Joanne Cantwell to gauge the excitement and elation of claiming an All-Ireland medal for the third time in his career.

The interview ended with Cantwell questioning Kerry’s victory when they were supposedly in transition. Donaghy’s response was "Joe Brolly told us the production line was finished in Kerry. Well Joe Brolly, what do you think of that?". The lively Donaghy vehemently looked to the camera as he called out Brolly in the ultimate 'I told you so'. Donaghy walked off, clenched his fists and gave a loud roar in an elated gesture that would not be out of place in a UFC octagon.

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From RTÉ Sport, Kieran Donaghy delivers the most famous 'I told you so' in Gaelic football

Brolly’s response was "You’d know his father was from Tyrone" and acknowledged Donaghy’s superb performance in the final "even in spite of what he said". On The Late Late Show in 2016, Donaghy discussed the motivation behind his now famous outburst in the post-match interview and maintained that Brolly "lets on that he doesn’t like Kerry but he’s actually obsessed with Kerry". And so, the light hearted digs continue.

'You can't win a derby with a donkey'

In the build-up to the 1990 Munster hurling final, Tipperary manager Michael 'Babs' Keating served up a statement that was intended as a motivator to his own team but was instead misconstrued as a driving factor for their Cork opposition. During an interview with Ger Canning on Sports Stadium which was broadcast the day before the Munster final, Keating talked about the Cork management. "You still need the talent, you still need the players. Several managers in recent weeks got credit for being great motivators but if you have not the talent…you can’t win a derby with a donkey".

Cork dethroned Tipperary as Munster champions and went on to win the All-Ireland final with the county going on to complete the double by claiming the football title a few weeks later. There are varying contradictory reports that Cork’s management and players had been annoyed by Keating’s comment or that they had not been aware of Keating’s comments until after the match. Nevertheless, the one-liner spiralled and even featured in newspaper headlines the day after Cork’s win with the Cork Examiner reading "Not bad for donkeys!"

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From The Sunday Game, highlights of the 1990 Munster hurling final

'I love me county'

In 2004, Cork and Waterford met for the second year in a row in the Munster hurling final in a thrilling contest that saw many dramatic moments. Shortly after the start of the second half, John Mullane received a red card for striking Brian Murphy in the face off the ball. He was sent to the dugout to watch his team beat the rebels and claim only their second Munster title since 1963.

After the match, Mullane was interviewed by RTÉ sports correspondent Tony O'Donoghue. In true GAA style, the discussion took place on field surrounded by enthusiastic supporters eager to feature on TV. Mullane later described himself as "emotionally all over the place" and took the opportunity to convey what the team and his county meant to him: "I don't want to let the people of Waterford down. The people of Waterford are my life, ya know? I love me county."

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From RTÉ Sport, John Mullane's famous post-match interview

The interview concluded with an equally passionate supporter replying "And we love John Mullane" demonstrating the esteem with which the player was held by his fellow Waterford people, despite being sent off after an incident that he describes as "one of the biggest regrets" of his hurling career. The red card meant Mullane missed the All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny, which Waterford lost by three points. Judging by his highly strung and animated nature as co-commentator on RTÉ Radio, it would appear that Mullane still loves his county.

'We're going to do it'

Half-time interviews with team managers are no longer a part of Gaelic Games but, in their heyday, they gave an indication of managers are likely to be feeling while the result of the game is still unknown. The 1995 All-Ireland final between Clare and Offaly saw the Banner claim their first title as hurling champions in 81 years.

It was at half-time in this match that Marty Morrissey conducted one of the shortest but most insightful interviews of his broadcasting career. With his team trailing Offaly at the break, Clare manager Ger Loughnane declared how he about to ask the players to "give their last ounce for Clare". Morrissey asked "do you think you're going to do it?" and with unwavering certainty, Loughnane's response was simply "We're going to do it".

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From Second Captains, a defiant Ger Loughnane heads for the dressingroom in 1995

Had Clare lost the game, perhaps the quote would be viewed as an ill-fated, over-confident prophecy. But Loughnane's assurance was justified and the interview remains an iconic reminder of an obsolete element of televised sporting experience.

Interviews with players and managers are a means of holding them accountable for their performance and as such, often generate prepared and generic over-used phrases and clichés. One-liners within the GAA context become memorable when they are expressed in an honest, spontaneous and straight talking manner in the heat of the moment. So here’s to less of the rehearsed yerras and more of the impromptu yahoos.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ