We are not all that long removed from a time when playing 'foreign sports' was essentially viewed as a cardinal sin by many of those involved in GAA.
Rule 27, also known as 'the ban', was a law within the association that was supposed to stop GAA members from playing or even watching sports such as soccer or rugby. First brought in in 1905, it remained in place all the way up until 1971.
Those who were deemed to have broken the rule could be expelled from the GAA, with many ostracised down through the years for following their interesting in other codes.
Liam Brady was once expelled for choosing soccer over GAA
Liam Brady is one of the greatest footballers that Ireland ever produced, having a glittering career at the likes of Arsenal, Juventus, and Inter Milan.
He was also a talented GAA player in his youth. However, his preference for soccer was the cause of plenty of issues in his teenage years.
In April of 1971, when the future Ireland star was 15-years old, he was expelled from St Aidan's CBS after he took the decision to play in a youth international match instead of a Gaelic football challenge match for the school.
At the time, Brady said that he was asked to line out in a game against St Jarlath's of Galway, but after informing them that he could not do so as he had to travel to Wales to play for Ireland, he was told not to bother returning to the school.
'Rule 27' had been abolished a matter of weeks prior to this incident, although it seems many still took a dim view to those who chose soccer over GAA. The school denied that Brady was expelled, although the teenager soon said that he would not return to sit his inter-cert that summer.
A report on the incident appeared in the Evening Herald soon afterwards and it certainly makes for interesting reading.
READ HERE: "Well You Can Stick It Up Your Ass!" - Liam Brady On What Inspired Him To Seek A Career In Italy
Ahead of tonight's Liam 'Chippy' Brady documentary:
The Ban on 'Foreign Games' abolished at GAA Congress in April 1971, but later in month Brady was expelled from St Aidan's CBS for choosing to play international soccer for Ireland over a football challenge v St Jarlath's, Tuam. pic.twitter.com/eurlqTbpTP
— Joe Ó Muirċeartaiġ (@muirioch) February 13, 2023
Here is an excerpt from the piece:
The principal of St. Aidan's secondary school in Whitehall last night denied that the boy was ever expelled. "There was never a question of expulsion," Rev. Brother Loughran said. "If the boy comes to the school we will consider re-admitting him."
Liam's soccer saga began, according to himself, last Thusday when he was called on to line out for his school in a Gaelic challenge match against St. Jartlath's College, Tuam.
"I explained to the head brother at that time that I could not play in the game as I had to travel to Wales for a school-boy international soccer match. He simply told me that, if I did not play for the school, I need not bother coming back," said Liam.
Liam took the principal at his word and did not turn in for school on Monday. His father, Mr. Ned Brady, went to the school to see the principal but, according to Liam, Brother Loughran refused to take him back. "I don't want to go back now," said Liam last night. "This has caused the school a lot of embarrassment and trouble. Brother Loughran is a fair man, and St. Aidan's is the best college in Dublin."
Liam has now enrolled in the Plunkett Technical School in Whitehall, but may never sit the Intermediate. In June he intends to go to London to begin his footballing apprenticeship with Arsenal.
It's safe to say that things all worked out for Liam Brady in the end.
This turned out to be the start of an incredible career, which will be documented in Liam Brady: The Irishman Abroad, which airs on RTÉ 2 at 9:35pm this evening.