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In Discussing English Hooligans, Eamon Dunphy Can't Help Thinking About The GAA

In Discussing English Hooligans, Eamon Dunphy Can't Help Thinking About The GAA
By Conor Neville Updated

When discussing the recent fetish for coin throwing in the English game on Game On tonight, Eamon Dunphy extolled the Irish sports fan for his and her comparatively peaceable nature.

In doing so, he naturally drew on the notably vicious rivalry between the football teams of Skibbereen (O'Donovan Rossa) and Castlehaven.

Dunphy spent two years living in Cork in the early 90s, as part of a project to write a book on Lester Piggott. This book remains unwritten.

However, in the wake of Italia 90, Dunphy enjoyed an idyllic life down in Castletownsend. He retains a fondness for the Castlehaven team, writing about his love of the place and the team in the Star the week of their Munster club final appearance in 2012.

Famously slagged as a 'seonin man' when covering the Kerry footballers in the early '80s - 'seonin man' is an antiquated term for a 'west brit' - Dunphy wrote that he never understood the lore of the GAA until he moved to rural Cork.

He said he followed the Dubs during the Heffo's army days 'but I never really understood the pull of the GAA — and its central role in Irish society — until I moved to Castletownsend.'

Tonight on 2FM's Game On he juxtaposed the cultures of English soccer fandom and Gaelic football supporters.

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It's always been part of English society. Well, not always, but going back 50 years and football hooliganism. We see and hear things on the terraces and in the stands that's racist and ugly.

There's a vibe in England that you don't get here. There's an edge and a nastiness to it.

Jon Kenny was a touch baffled by Dunphy's curious reference.

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There's a fierce rivalry, say, in West Cork in the Gaelic football between Skibbereen and Castlehaven. It's savage! (over laughs and cries of 'where did you drag that one from?'I know because I lived down there. It's savage. But in a nice kind of way. Afterwards, everyone has a drink, but the rivalry is as bitter as could possibly be but it would never become the kind of visceral thing where you would have people chanting about a thing like Hillsborough and the Munich air crash.

Of course in romanticising the Irish sports fan, Dunphy may have forgotten the odd incident of referee kidnapping but then that only happens in Wicklow. 

Read more: '17 Years In Blue': Bernard Brogan Tweets Out Great Tribute Video To Alan Brogan

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