The dust may have settled on the 2016 GAA Championship but we here are Balls.ie are still thinking about intercounty football and hurling. In these dark months, we're especially thinking about the GAA's cult heroes, the mercurial characters who set the summer alight.
What are we talking about when we talk about GAA cult heroes? We're not talking about the GAA's best-ever players, but rather those men whose grit, character and love of the jersey inspired the unending ardour of supporters and the begrudging respect of opposition. There is sometimes a rogueish aspect to the Cult Hero, but it is not a prerequisite. There is always a steeliness and a charisma, though. An aura, if you will.
These are the men who need an entire season of Laochra Gael to properly capture their life story. These are the men who inspire lesser songwriters to pen poor cover versions of popular rock songs.
Your Mickey Lindens. Your Willie Joe Paddens. Your Johnny Pilkingtons.
But who is the GAA's all-time greatest Cult Hero? We here at Balls have decided to embark on an ambitious project this autumn and winter. We're launching a large-scale democratic project that will go from county to county to determine each county's Cult Hero. These weekly polls will reach across football and hurling to find the player who best embodies the values of the Cult Hero. And with all due respect to the GAA stars of the black and white era, like the Dandy O'Dwyer, this poll will only be dealing with Cult Heroes of the last thirty or so years.
It's a massive endevour that will take at least six months.
Tomorrow we'll begin the hunt for the GAA's Ultimate Cult Hero in Kildare. The Lilywhites have given us a number of true characters over the years and over this week, GAA fans in Kildare and beyond can cast their vote for its ultimate Cult Hero.
We'll have a new poll every week and before the start of the 2017 Championship, Ireland will have chosen its ultimate GAA Cult Hero.
Watch this space.
If you'd like to nominate a cult hero from your county, email [email protected]