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Watch: 6 Of The Most Notorious Dives In Gaelic Football History

Watch: 6 Of The Most Notorious Dives In Gaelic Football History
Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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Now that GAA players have begun to master the ancient art of diving, there's an argument to be made that Gaelic footballers are even more morally bankrupt than Premiership soccer players, a grouping hitherto regarded by many 'Gaels' as the gold standard in moral bankruptcy.

After all, Premier League footballers get paid to dive. Gaelic footballers, by contrast, do it purely for the love of diving.

The earliest known 'exhibition of diving' in Gaelic football allegedly occurred in 1980 when Pat Spillane was accused of 'play-acting' and time-wasting in the latter stages of the All-Ireland final against Roscommon.

While we're unaware of Pat explicitly admitting to the charge of 'diving', he was nonetheless gloriously unapologetic about his display of gamesmanship, reasoning that the Rossies had gone in with the intention of rough-housing Kerry and that his antics only served to help the referee see what was happening.

A cursory glance at the footage of the 1980 final reveals that Spillane wasn't really diving in the modern sense of the word. Rather, he merely spent longer lying on the ground after a few tackles than many of the hard chaws thought reasonable.

The hardy boys who played the game in the 1980s evidently had a broader definition of 'diving' than the one which prevails now. This was, after all, the era in which Dinny Allen and Paidí O'Sé threw, respectively, an elbow and a box into one another's jaw within yards of the ref and he let both off with a talking to of unknown sternness.


The old-timers go-to complaint about the modern game, namely that the game has gone soft, while more applicable in hurling, is justified in this instance. Here is a selection of the worst dives from the past decade.

Aidan O'Mahony - Kyle Lafferty (almost) comes to Croke Park

For years, the GAA smugly believed it had seen nothing to witness to breathtaking dastardliness of Kyle Lafferty's dive against Aberdeen in SPL seven years ago, a flop to the ground so outrageous it would have had even the most morally ambiguous football fan foaming at the mouth.

But only the year before, Aidan O'Mahony succeeded in getting Donncha O'Connor sent off for a slap in the face. O'Mahony goaded his marker after winning a sideline ball, screaming in his face. O'Connor responded with the kind of cuff on the cheek that a Hollywood starlet might dole out to a cheeky suitor in a romantic comedy. After a few seconds of aggressive bravado, O'Mahony remembered himself and realised there was an opportunity to get his man sent off.


The most one could say in defence of O'Mahony was he didn't invent the contact.

Tiernan McCann

Safe to say no dive has generated more public opprobrium than Tiernan McCann's world class effort last year. Why did McCann's dive inflame opinion more than so many others?

Tyrone supporters lean towards the explanation that this was due to McCann being (a.) from Ulster and (b.) even more damningly, from Tyrone. They lean very strongly towards this explanation.


His incorrigible Tyrone-ness was probably a factor. Tyrone were getting a bad rap all last year anyway, being castigated for their supposed cynicism, tactics, playacting and sledging. Even had McCann not tossed himself to the ground like a tragic heroine, Tyrone wouldn't have gotten a good press following the Monaghan game. In the same game, Joe Brolly alluded to the invisible man's longstanding vendetta against the Cavanagh brother, a vendetta which was only pursued once Sean and Colm encroached into the scoring area.

There are other factors. Unlike Aidan O'Shea's dramatic fall on Saturday, but like Aidan O'Mahony's dive above, it occurred during a break-in play and was designed to get an opposing player sent off, a factor which seems to make it more viscerally offensive to most people. Also, that it related in some way to Tiernan's lovingly maintained hairstyle added another layer of comedy and notoriety to the whole thing.

McCann won our admiration in the days afterwards by pasting an Oscar Wilde quote into his twitter bio, specifically that 'the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about', and also retweeting a few tweets attesting to how much he loved his hair.


These were 'un-retweeted' afterwards, presumably on the advice of some killjoy from the Tyrone county board.

Michael Shields

A dive which occurred less than a month before Tiernan McCann and which has been more or less forgotten. Paul Geaney throws a bit of a shoulder into the body of Michael Shields who proceeds to plummet to the ground.


As Paul Gascoigne would put it, Shields then 'rolled around as if he were dead'.

Our only thought upon watching it was to wonder at how different Vinny Murphy's career would have been had diving been more in vogue in his time.

Aidan O'Shea

Aidan O'Shea's sublime diving skills have been given a run-out before, most memorably in the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final, when he spent much of the first half flinging himself to the floor.

To his credit, he rations his dives very carefully, only choosing to toss himself around like a rag doll when the situation requires it or when Mayo are badly in need of a score.

In last year's Connacht final for instance, when Mayo were not badly in need of anything, O'Shea endured comical levels of pulling and dragging without bothering to appeal for a free, helping to fashion Mayo's sixth goal despite being effectively rugby tackled by two Sligo players.



Michael Lundy

Michael Lundy was the standout star on a scintillating Corofin team that hammered almost team they played on route to the 2014-15 All-Ireland club title. The notable exception being St. Vincent's in the semi-finals and even in that game there were five points in it at the finish.

His dive early in the second half - Corofin had won the free and were leading handily - left a needless stain.

Ironically, this dive was brought to our attention by a couple of energetic Mayo supporters on twitter, whose moral stance on diving in Gaelic football has become rather more ambiguous in the past week.

Mark Anthony McGinley

Diving produces strange responses in people.

Mark Anthony McGinley's tragic fall in the Donegal-Monaghan game this year prompted commentator Dave McIntyre to utter the curious line 'you really would hope Mark Anthony McGinley has been hit in the face there'.

Rivaldo-esque is an adjective we hesitate to use but it is fitting as applied to the Donegal goalkeeper's late in the Ulster semi-final. We can't recall Paul Durcan indulging in this craic.

See Also: 100 Reasons We Loved Irish Sport In 2017



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