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The 12 Pre-Match Team Talks That All GAA Managers Give

The 12 Pre-Match Team Talks That All GAA Managers Give
By Conor Neville Updated

Those final few minutes before a game are so important...

The I've read too many Brian Clough autobiographies team-talk

Occasionally, a manager, often having tried everything else and at the end of his tether, will opt in desperation to do something... enigmatic. He will wait for hush to descend on the dressing room and just stare around the room for about a minute while everyone squirms.

He will then exhale softly and walk out of the room, leaving the players looking at each other quizzically.

The 'I'm proud of ye already lads' team-talk

An underrated gambit usually attempted after a traditionally unsuccessful team has enjoyed an unexpectedly long run and have gotten further than anticipated. Its principal aim is to lessen the pressure on players who find themselves in this unfamiliar environment.

A rather soppy but quietly effective affair it is not often glimpsed in films.


One notable example of the 'I'm proud of ye already lads' team-talk was by Ger Loughnane before the 1995 All-Ireland semi-final between Clare and Galway. Clare had just won their first Munster title in 81 years and were back in Croke Park.

This is the classic scenario for an 'I'm proud of ye already lads' speech.

The 'they think we're fuckin' shite' team-talk


A variation on the common 'dressing room wall material' speech, its rather obvious aim is to foster a 'we'll fuckin' show them' mentality among the troops.

A prominent and hugely successful Galway underage manager once overheard a member of the backroom team of one of the big three (believed to be Cork) reassuring his team before a match with a reminder that ‘it’s only Galway!’

The Galway manager proceeded to roar this sentiment repeatedly into his own players’ ears  for years afterwards (he recycled the story for the benefit of later generations of minor players) in an effort to gee them up for the latest battle.


The 'I don't want ye saying anything to the referee' team-talk

This team-talk is reserved for teams who have a history of giving lip to the ref and believing the ref to be against again.

A manager may talk about other matters in his speech, but the chief focus seems to be an appeal to stoicism when a ref makes a call against you.

These speeches tend to be heavy on truisms like 'I never seen a referee change his mind, yet'.


In approximately 84% of these cases, the manager himself will be forced to stand behind the fence for continual abuse of the referee.

The 'hit them hard' team-talk

This manager believes that the answer to every problem is more violence and physicality.


The opponents are fancy dans whose mental weakness and general lack of moral courage will be exposed by an unending series of digs, slaps, full-blooded challenges and thundering shoulders.

Often this team-talk will be adorned with various sound effects which the manager will engineer by punching his other palm repeatedly.

If the 'hit them hard' strategy fails to produce the required result this is not because the emphasis should have lay elsewhere but because the strategy was not applied with enough vigour.


The next day, we'll have to really hit them hard.

The self-consciously inspirational team-talk

If a television director were to catch a recording of this team-talk and deem it not worthy of epic and touching montage music, the manager will be deemed to have failed.

American Presidents and their speechwriters devote less time to their inauguration speeches than this man does to a five minute pep talk before a championship opener.

He has imbibed the spirit of Al Pacino and Eric Taylor whole.

The referee is against us team-talk

This team-talk, rather curiously, will often morph into the an 'I don't want you saying anything to the referee' effort. 'The ref is a bollocks but...' is the general thrust of proceedings.

The team-talk fulfils a dual purpose, the players will be enraged by the blatant unfairness of it all and ideally will play above themselves motivated by the knowledge that they will have to overcome both the other team and the referee who has mistakenly walked out onto the pitch with a different colour jersey than the opposition.


The 'simple game lads' team-talk

The manager most in thrall to this speech has what could be called 'Pat Spillane syndrome'. This is because, for whatever reason, this manager tends to be an ex-player of considerable ability and cannot understand why players are making the game look so difficult.

He is driven to de-mystifying the game.

When your man has the ball you harass him, and when you get the ball you give it to a teammate and when you get a chance of a score you put the ball over the bar. Simple. There are the watchwords he live by.

The 'this is our parish lads' speech

A folksy and emotional effort which is largely specific to the GAA, this is the team-talk which is most beloved of the producers of Celebrity Bainisteoir. The manager will remind the players that they are playing for something bigger than themselves.

It will often run side by side with the suggestion that the denizens of the opposing parish are made of weaker stuff and have a strut which is not commensurate with their status.

The libel the opposition/arrogant cunts team talk


(See the end of previous one also) Managers will often chose to devote their team-talk to a virtual character assassination on the opposition and those that the opposition represent.

These team-talks tend to be long on historical grievance, jam-packed with damning anecdotes and replete with accusations of arrogance against the opposing club/county, its players, its past-players, its supporters and its whole population generally.

The 'there's only one fuckin' answer for that shite' speech


With the decline in newspaper sales, we predict that in future years the main market for the print editions of newspapers will be managers who want to pin articles up on dressing room walls.

They will constitute a majority of newspaper buyers. A storied tactic that has risen (or descended) to the level of cliche.

The 'go out and enjoy yourselves' afterthought speech

Having spent the previous 15 minutes speaking about the game as if it was tantamount to going over the top in the Somme, this manager will remember himself and, as the players are bursting out the door screaming war chants and vicious libels, will call after them 'and remember lads, to go out and enjoy yourselves'.

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