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The Day The Gooch Provoked A Francie Bellew Dressing Room Speech

The Day The Gooch Provoked A Francie Bellew Dressing Room Speech

The 2007 All-Ireland Club Championship final saw the meeting of two great teams: Armagh's Crossmaglen Rangers and Kerry's Dr Crokes. At half-time in the final at Croke Park, the Armagh side led by a point, but Colm Cooper had got the better of Crossmaglen's legendary fullback Francie Bellew on a couple of occasions. It inspired Bellew to give his first ever dressing room speech.

"Francie Bellew absolutely hated the Gooch," teammate Oisín McConville told BBC Sounds' GAA Social podcast.

"Francie wouldn't have hatred [in him], believe it or not. Francie is just so quiet.

"He hated the Gooch because of what the Gooch could do to him, and did do to him on many occasions.

Gooch provokes Francie Bellew's first speech

"I remember '07, we played Crokes. At half-time... I'd never heard Francie talking [in the dressing room]. I played with Francie from roughly six or seven-years-of-age, and he never opened his mouth in the dressing room.

"Francie was annoyed because I think the Gooch skinned him a couple of times in the first half. Francie just let go at half-time. That was the first time he ever talked [in the dressing room]. He'd never spoken before in the dressing room.

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"He said he was going to maybe leave something on the Gooch in the second half. He also wanted the rest of us to step up and be a bit more physical.

"Normally, the manager speaks, and then the captain speaks. I was the captain at the time, but I just thought, 'What would be the point of me trying to follow that? The man hasn't spoken in 25 years'.

"For me, that said a lot. He had a lot of begrudging respect for the Gooch and what he could do to you.

"Francie doesn't let his feelings be known, but he let his feelings be known that day."

francie bellew colm cooper dressing room speech

The game finished as a draw thanks to a point which still annoys Dr Crokes players and supporters to this day. Crossmaglen went on to win the replay a fortnight later.

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"It's not an opinion, it's a fact: He took about 14 steps," said Cooper.

"[It was like] Tommy Bowe was going in the corner."

McConville believes Crokes supporters embellish the story a little more every year.

"I met a woman in Dublin," said McConville.

"Kerry were playing the All-Ireland final two year ago. She stopped me, and I had the wee fella with me. She says, 'You took 13 steps'. I said, 'You're obviously a Crokes woman. You keep adding a step on every year'.

"I had to explain to [my son] Ryan [what happened]. I had to show him, and he wasn't happy that it wasn't in HD. He did say that I overcarried it.

"He said 14 steps, she said 13 steps - I'm thinking five, tops. I was being fouled at the time."

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francie bellew colm cooper dressing room speech

PJ Browne
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