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Kieran McGeeney On How The Spartans Inspired Him To Win The All-Ireland

Kieran McGeeney On How The Spartans Inspired Him To Win The All-Ireland
By Conall Cahill

Kieran McGeeney's drive and determination are legendary and the extent to which he pushed (and continues to push) himself in terms of training and preparation is a source of fascination for followers of Irish sport. Undoubtedly there are a multitude of factors behind McGeeney's ambition and the success he has enjoyed (an All-Ireland with Armagh, six Ulster titles, three All Stars and a Footballer of the Year gong) - but McGeeney has on several occasions pointed to a certain piece of literature as the inspiration that changed how he thought about team sport.

McGeeney's good friend Hugh Campbell - who served as Kildare's sports psychologist when McGeeney was in charge of the county's senior football side - once lent McGeeney a book about the Battle of Thermopylae, which documents how the Spartans drove Persian invaders away from ancient Greece. And in a speech given at the John Paul II awards in 2009, McGeeney gave his young audience an insight into the impact the book had on his career:

What I took from it, more than anything else, was their motto — come home with your shield or upon it.

The Spartans were renowned as the greatest fighting army in the world and they carried their shield in their left hand with their spear in their right.

They carried their shield in their left hand, because they protected the man beside them. And that was their sole focus in battle: it was to make sure that the man beside them survived.

And it was through that, that they became the most invincible army in the world, because they were always willing to make sure that the man beside them was better looked after than themselves.

I sort of thought to myself, if a team can think that way - and as an individual I was always very personally driven - I said to myself: 'My job, really, on the football field, should be to make everyone beside me look better than I do.' And it was through that philosophy that my own football started to flourish, and we tried to build it through the Armagh team.

Eventually, we did. We got it through everybody. Your sole purpose was to make the men beside you look good. And when you followed that philosophy, your team became...to me, it became almost invincible.

McGeeney's seriousness about whatever he commits himself to can sometimes lead him to be portrayed as a kind of intense, brooding figure - but anyone who has come into contact with him will speak of a totally different character. Those who have witnessed him coach Gaelic games in schools, for example, speak of his passion, joy and sheer enthusiasm for passing on the skills to the next generation.

If you're struggling for motivation in anything - or even if you are not - do yourself a favour and watch the whole video below. The above quote is only a small extract from what is a fairly inspiring speech from the Armagh manager.



SEE ALSO: Mickey Harte's Half-Time Gesture Typified A Lovely Aspect Of The GAA

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