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9 Of The Most Memorable Goal Celebrations In The GAA

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville Updated

The traditional and officially approved way of celebrating a goal in Gaelic games is to keep the head down and boot it back to your position, your face betraying no trace of smugness as you go.

The old ways are under threat and came under their greatest assault yet with Tyrone's Ronan O'Neill bringing 'the dab' to the GAA's sanctum sanctorum last weekend.

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We've seen the like before.

Joe Brolly

Joe's career is now perhaps better known for kiss blowing than anything else that happened.


His most famous displays of kiss blowing came in the Ulster championship win over Tyrone in 1997 and the 1998 Ulster Final win over Donegal.

Amazingly, this tendency of his resulted in his physical injury only once. Brolly wrote about the incident in a Gaelic Life column a year ago. It was from an NFL game against Meath in 1997.

Channeling Grand National winning jockey Mick Fitzgerald, the Meath goalkeeper Conor Martin had proclaimed the previous year's All-Ireland victory better than sex.


In the following year's National League playoff - Derry were NFL kingpins in the 90s - Brolly lifted the ball over Martin to win the match.

As the ball nestled in the net, Brolly tousled the keeper's hair and enquired whether what had just happened was also 'better than sex'. He followed that up with some obligatory kiss blowing

He followed that up with some obligatory kiss-blowing. Colm Coyle took exception to this display and booted him, leaving him requiring stitches and a spin to the hospital.


Still, his manager Brian Mullins was sympathetic to his forwards plight. As Brolly was carted off to the Mater, he offered these soothing words.

You deserved that you little bollocks.



Conor Mortimer

The only silverware from John O'Mahony's disappointing second spell as Mayo manager. Clearly, you should never go back, and if you must, don't do so while simultaneously breaking your bollocks as a rural TD.

Mortimer's goal put Mayo seven points clear with fifteen minutes left and seemed to have settled the match in their favour.


They did get there in the end but had to endure a heart-stopping finale, after Galway reeled off 1-4, a run which culminated in Michael Meehan's equalising goal. It was a comeback for the ages but from the next - and last - attack, Peadar Gardiner struck the winner.

Mortimer celebrated his goal by paying tribute to the recently departed 'Micheal Jackson'. The spellcheckers were quick to chide Mort for his typo but we like to think that the decision to Gaelicise the late pop star's Christian name was a deliberate one.


John Mullane

The first skirmish in the Cork-Waterford rivalry of the noughties.

The prideful John Mullane first announced himself as that most treasured of commodities - 'the marquee forward'. He also announced himself as the Waterford player whom opposition fans most loved to shower with abuse.

Overcome with excitement at nailing the hat-trick early in the second half, he celebrated by flipping the bird at the red hordes in the Town End.

He delivered a solemn public apology via the forum of the Six One News the next day. The gravity of the situation demanded that Marty head down to Waterford to get the man's contrition on camera.

He would have to deliver another televised apology after the following year's Munster Final, this time after a Waterford victory.


Jason Reilly

Such was the level of giddiness after Cavan's 1997 Ulster title win that even those who are inclined to fret about the corrosive influence of Premiership soccer failed to rebuke Jason Reilly for his blatant appropriation of Fabrizio Ravenelli's patented celebration, then in vogue across the water.

Cavan were, of course, the 'traditional' kingpins of Ulster football but the county had descended into steep decline since the advent of colour television.

Even now, they still sit miles ahead in the Ulster roll of honour despite having won shag all at senior level in half a century (1997 excepted). Indeed, such was the dominance in the first half of the twentieth century that it'll probably take another century before someone (most likely, Tyrone) catches them up.

Ravenelli's goal celebration became the Reilly for that summer.


Joe Canning

Multiple efforts, some of them more politically correct than others.

He scored Galway's first ever goal in the Leinster championship in Galway hurling's adopted home of Tullamore (regrettably, it must now be regarded as such) in 2009. He waved his hand in front of his face in a cocky manner likely to irk the austere man on the line for Kilkenny. On the Kilkenny bench, eyes surely narrowed vengefully at the sight.

However, our controversial favourite was the rather more provocative scream in the face of the opposition, given its first and only run-out in last year's Leinster First Round replay against Dublin.

Early in the second half, Canning batted home Galway's fourth goal, effectively the match to bed as a contest.

Conal Keaney had presumably been getting on Canning's tits that day for Joe decided to celebrate his goal by screaming maniacally inches from the opposing centre back's face.

A celebration designed to annoy the opposition, for sure, it also, according to Daithi Regan, annoyed referee Brian Gavin who booked Canning for 'sledging'.

At the time, co-commentator Liam Sheedy was disinclined to read too much into the incident. Canning, he said, merely 'let a yep out of him'.


Seamus Darby

Darby's goal celebration was not choreographed beforehand. It was performed with an eye to looking 'cool'. It was a spontaneous and wholly unselfconscious rush of emotion. A touch archaic but also revealing of a man wildly pumped up. The most replayed and mythologised goal in Gaelic football and Darby is there bouncing up and down on the spot uncontainably afterwards. There was a goal!


Joe Kavanagh

Joe Kavanagh was a flamboyant footballer who always appeared to have something of the street about him, a slightly urban vibe, a key marker of which seems to be an ability to score goals easier than points.

Like many Cork footballers in the 90s, he filled his boots with Munster medals during what my colleague PJ Browne calls the Bermuda Triangle of Kerry Football.

Kerry football was in deep recession in 1993, with Ógie Moran opting to bring the Bomber Liston out of retirement for the make or break tie in Killarney. They had never been so far removed from the big time.

Pat Spillane and Jacko had only recently called it a day but the left-field decision to recall Liston meant they hadn't quite broken with the golden era.

That was the year the magnificently full bearded and similarly ancient Alan Cork almost took Sheffield United to the FA Cup Final. Eoin Liston couldn't work the oracle in quite the same way for Kerry.

Cork won a wretched game by only three points but never looked like losing. Kavanagh's goal felt like an insurance score at the time but thanks to some late scoreboard polishing from Kerry it ended up being technically the difference between the two sides.

He celebrated with a most un-Gaelic football like knee slide, one of the most soccer moves we've seen in the Munster championship.

It took Donagh Wiseman to remind us of this one. 


Graham Geraghty

Swooping in and out like the man from the Milk Tray adverts, this Graham Geraghty story sounds like it has been subject to much embellishment but its tellers insist upon its truth. Still recuperating after their first loss to Dublin in what seemed like forever, Meath had to play Louth in a Saturday evening qualifier in Navan.

People didn't know it then but Meath were at the beginning of a lengthy decline.

Louth led the game from the start to finish and despite a late Meath flurry, still lead 2-9 to 2-8 as the clock ticked into injury time.

Geraghty had barely touched the ball all game. His preparation wasn't ideal. He was Best Man at a wedding and Meath had to arrange a helicopter to get him to the game on time (is there anything more Celtic Tiger than laying on a helicopter to get a star player to a GAA match).

In the final minute, Ollie Murphy powered to the end line, booted a ball across and Geraghty won it, swung a skittery shot goalwards. Louth manager Paddy Clarke fell to his knees as the ball nestled in the net. Geraghty whipped off his shirt and charged around the ground. Anthony Moyles told the story on an edition of the Hard Shoulder last year.

I think he (Geraghty) was a Best Man at a wedding. He got a chopper to the game. Did very little in the game. Stuck the goal. Beat Louth, broke everyone in Louth's hearts. Took the jersey over the head and was swinging it around as he ran around the pitch. And with about five Meath lads in straw hats hanging off him, he ran out through the dugout, back into the helicopter and he was back in time for the Best Man speech in Monaghan.


Gregory McCartan 

Ulster football in the 1990s took the lead on the celebration front. Brolly, Reilly and McCartan all feature. The Down football team of the early 1990s were still alive and dangerous but Ulster was so-uber competitive they never reached Croker again for the rest of the century.

Gregory McCartan's joyous celebration of a his goal against Cavan in the Ulster semi-final is difficult to describe. He got the knees hopping and swung his head from the side to side in a show of cocky delirium.



Read more: The 'Rest Of Ireland XV' That Might Have Half A Chance Against The Dubs

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