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It's 20 Years Since Joe Kernan Made The Greatest GAA Half Time Talk Of All Time

It's 20 Years Since Joe Kernan Made The Greatest GAA Half Time Talk Of All Time
Nathan Molloy
By Nathan Molloy
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It's been 20 years to the day since perhaps the greatest half time talk to echo in Croke Park's dressing rooms. They say actions speak louder than words and Joe Kernan proved it on 22 September, 2002.

Armagh were playing in their first All-Ireland final since 1977, and they came up against a formidable Kerry side driven on by a young Colm Cooper. The Kingdom would go into the break 4 points ahead, 0-11 to 0-7, after the Orchard County's forward Oisin McConville missed a penalty.

It seemed certain that Kerry's pedigree would see them over the line.

But it didn't happen that way.

'Do you want to be like me?'

Knowing his team needed inspiration to overcome the deficit, the Armagh manager did something spectacular in the bowels of Croke Park, according to accounts by Armagh players Justin and Enda McNulty.

Read More: Niall Morgan Flaunts Outfield Skills By Scoring 1-5 From Fullback


Having played in the 1977 final himself, Kernan showed the young men the runners-up plaque he received that day and threw it at the wall, splintering it into multiple pieces. He then asked the boys did he they want to be like him.

Listen boys, we aren't playing well. I played in the 1977 All-Ireland final and I remember going home on the bus crying and with all the boys crying. Do ye want to fucking be like me?

According to Justin McNulty:

"At which point he said calmly and with massive conviction, 'I'll tell you what you can do with this!'

"And smashed it into smithereens off the walls of the showers, with major dramatic effect.

After destroying the plaque, the Crossmaglen man then revealed an original All-Ireland medal. He showed it to all in the dressing room and calmly said beforehand:


Or, do you want one of these?


This proved vital to the young forward McConville. Speaking to the GAA about the famous team talk, McConville stated that it made everyone realise they had to seize this opportunity.

But when you think back to it, he had us gripped with that team talk, by firing the plaque against the wall. Literally the plaque did go into little pieces. It was as if it had meant nothing to him, I think everyone looked at him and realised that.

Part of the psyche with Armagh was 'we're making progress, we're making progress, we're in an All Ireland Final, it's going to happen" but in those situations, Joe made us realise in that moment that when you get an opportunity like this that you have to seize it and I think that was the biggest thing for us.

Inspired second half performance

His team talk had the desired effect on his charges. Armagh quickly overcame the 4-point deficit with McConville making up for his penalty miss with a well taken goal past Kerry goalkeeper Declan O'Keefe

From then on, they had the momentum and defeated the Kingdom on a scoreline of 1-12 to 0-14. Sam Maguire was heading back north and for the very first time to Armagh. Winners on that day, Enda and Justin McNulty wrote books about the final. Thanks to them, Joe Kernan's half time team talk entered GAA folklore.


SEE ALSO: McConville Doesn't Like Look Of "Overloaded" Mayo Backroom Team 



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