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Niall Quinn Recalls Being Buried By Searing Insult From Junior C 'Keeper After Retirement

Niall Quinn Recalls Being Buried By Searing Insult From Junior C 'Keeper After Retirement
By Gavan Casey Updated

Nialls Quinn's exploits as a Minor GAA player hardly need introduction to even the most casual of Irish sports fans, but his Indian summer as a Gaelic footballer following his retirement from that other foreign sport is decidedly less heralded.

Ireland's second-top goalscorer sat down with Richie Sadlier for the latest instalment of Second Captains' Player's Chair podcast, released yesterday, and such was the magnitude of the discussion we were left to wonder why we didn't tap up Richie when he was a guest on our own football podcast a couple of months ago. Quinn, it turns out, did try to poach Sadlier from Milwall circa 1997, but the two former Ireland internationals have reconvened on numerous occasions since - most notably when then-retired Sadlier trained at Sunderland 2006 in an attempt to resurrect his playing career.

Over the past year, Sadlier and Quinn have banged heads together to spark ideas with regards to player welfare - a pertinent topic highlighted in recent weeks by Aaron Lennon's personal struggles and the subsequent emergence of similar stories, most of them from retired players, across various media platforms.

Sadlier and Quinn's post-retirement tales were - to varying degrees - harrowing, but shed an extremely important light on the mindset of a recently-retired professional sportsperson. With few structures in place for post-retirement life, both former strikers were confronted with stark realities and existential questions, and both provided extremely candid accounts of such struggles on The Player's Chair.

Naturally, their evocative conversation was punctuated by a number of laugh-out-loud moments. It was while discussing his self-indulgence in the six months after he first moved back to Ireland when Quinn produced a couple of wonderful anecdotes about his second stint as a GAA player. He told Second Captains:

I started playing Gaelic football with Eadestown. That was great fun, and I got into a different set of people. Dressing rooms are dressing rooms, you know? Whether you're in a Premier League dressing room or you're in the local GAA club dressing room. You're the butt of the jokes the one day, and you're giving it out the next. They were a great set of lads.

I would put Eadestown memories up there with my Sunderland memories. I was sub the first night, but the first full game I played in, a big crowd came out because word had gotten out that I was playing for Eadestown. We had a guy Pat Doyle - he got on the gate, €4 in to watch a Junior C football match up in Eadestown. About three or four hundred people came, and the club made sixteen hundred quid - I was delighted. But Pat wanted €4 off me on the way in, and that was the world I was coming back into having left that world to go off into the Premier League.

Quinn then recounted his first start for the Kildare club - a game in which he both earned and converted a hat-trick of penalties.

He maintains that none were controversial decisions, but such was the absurdity of the very notion that the same player could win three penalties within the same fixture, tempers flared both before and after his third spotter.

It would result in Quinn receiving a cutting welcome back to the reality of Irish life from the man he had beaten on three occasions.

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The night I played the first full game against Sallins. I got brought down for three penalties. And they were all three blatant penalties. I got brought down for the first penalty and everybody had gone back about 50 yards, so I knew I had to take the penalty. Anyway, I scored - it was a young lad in goal for Sallins, and I scored the three penalties.

The last penalty, their umpire threw the green flag at me and told me to 'Get back to England ya divin' bastard!'

And I got up and scored the third penalty, the final whistle went, and there was a little bit of pushing and fighting going on. I - as I would always do - swerved that, looked for somebody to say 'hard luck' to, and I saw their goalkeeper. And so I went over to him and I said: 'Listen, Jesus, hard luck, there, youngfella, I'd say you would have liked to have saved one of them'.

And he went: 'Fuck off, ya prick. You wouldn't take one against Spain!'

So I was brought back down to Earth. There was the retired hero, thinking he was coming home to this adulation that he'd become accustomed to, and good old Irish humour, wit, call it what you want... I was buried. Put in my place. And I've never forgotten that moment.

And so, sat somewhere in the world is a 30-something-year-old former Junior C goalkeeper from Sallins, who is perhaps unaware as to the profound impact he's had on Niall Quinn's life.

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Lord knows what horrors the Kildare Junior C Football Championship would have held for Matt Holland, David Connolly or Kevin Kilbane after the summer of 2002.

You can subscribe to The Second Captains World Service here; trust us, Niall Quinn's appearance on The Player's Chair with Richie Sadlier is frankly worth the five or so bob alone.

SEE ALSO: 15 Famous Irish People Who Played Minor GAA At County Level

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