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Eddie Brennan Speaks Absolute Sense About Drinking Bans In The GAA

Eddie Brennan Speaks Absolute Sense About Drinking Bans In The GAA
Gavin Cooney
By Gavin Cooney
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It's a good thing that we discuss Ireland's relationship with alcohol, and as is often the case, sport and the GAA give us the vocabulary to do so.

Joe Canning, as per, gave a deeply intelligent response to the drinking culture in the GAA: namely long, harshly monitored periods of abstinence followed by wild days-long indulgence before the next ban.

The culture in the GAA is for lads to go on the piss for a day or two after a big game. And that's totally wrong for your body and for your mind. They end up sick for nearly a week afterwards because they feel they have to go ballistic.

I'm not for a second recommending a drink culture, but the balance is so wrong. You're always kind of on edge now when you're out. You're almost paranoid. And that's wrong too.

Attitudes to drinking in the GAA vaulted back into the headlines this week courtesy of Kieran Bergin's (admittedly January) agenda-setting interview with Karl O'Kane of the Irish Daily Star.


Bergin lamented blanket bans in the GAA, as it bred distrust, suspicion and ultimately infantalisation.

I don’t know, are they trying to cod you, or is there a lack of trust between ‘em. You are treated like a complete child.

Lads at training would ask, ‘what did you do last night?

I’d have no problem saying, ‘I sat down at home there and I had three cans of Heineken.’ The young lads are like, ‘oh, you can’t do that.

I’m like, ‘of course you can do that. Three beers sitting down relaxing, watching TV, that’s not going to kill you.

It’s this mentality that’s across the board. No drinking. And it was even said at our club meeting the other night, four or five weeks out from championship, there should be no drinking.

The topic was up for discussion on 2FM's Game On last night, with Kilkenny legend and former under-21 manager Eddie Brennan on the other end of the line to dispense some words of wisdom.

The fun possibly has gone out of the game.

Okay, I'm speaking as somebody who enjoyed a lot of success with Kilkenny. We had the goal most years of winning an All-Ireland. We had a nice balance that offset the ratio of training to playing matches.

There is a regime out there now which sometimes I feel is over the top and more and more lads are asking 'What's in it for me?'

But if you are willing to make sacrifices, to do all that training and feel there is a definite goal to aim at, no matter where you are in the pecking order, then it's easier to put in that hard slog.

If you turn around and tell adults that you can't drink for six months, then you have a problem.

Drinking bans are generally more an issue among panels who cannot discipline themselves with the tunnel vision of pursuit of the ultimate prize. Mickey Harte, for example, did not have to impose blanket bans at Tyrone at their peak as players knew that excessive boozing would leave them lagging behind at training, and potentially miss out on September appearances in Croke Park. Diarmuid Connolly hinted at something similar during his recent interview with Hill 16 Army.

But for the bulk of GAA players across the country, something is going to have to give in terms of what is being asked of them, both time and lifestyle-wise.



See Also: 'I'd Say They Don't Even Know What A Football Is!' - Tipp Star On Picking Gaelic Over Hurling...And Aussie Rules



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