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10 Memorable Pat Spillane Quotes From 30 Years Of Punditry

10 Memorable Pat Spillane Quotes From 30 Years Of Punditry
By Rory Cassidy

This Sunday's All-Ireland football final between Kerry and Galway will mark Pat Spillane's final appearance on 'The Sunday Game' after a thirty-year long association with the programme. The eight-time All-Ireland winner has been an ever present on our screens on the RTÉ panel but announced recently that he would be stepping away from his role as one of Ireland's best known TV pundits.

Spillane certainly has a way with words and down through the years he has provided GAA aficionados with many memorable quotes. Here, Balls.ie looks at ten of his most famous ones.

1)  Spillane on Tyrone's puke football - 2003

Arguably the most famous of all Spillane quotes. Tyrone comfortably beat Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final in 2003 and Pat was far from happy with the Red Hand's display.

"I don’t want to see a game which had 72 frees which must be a record for a championship game. That’s the equivalent of 92 frees in a soccer match or 82 frees in a rugby match. It was like kids playing in an overcrowded school yard. This is not the game that I love to play and be involved in, this negative, defensive orientated, stop-start, cynical gamesmanship and kicking being the last option. I fear for the future of Gaelic football if this is the way that its going to evolve and remember there’s no rule changes for the next couple of years.

This sort of football that I saw today will not fill Croke Park. The sooner they open Croke Park the better. This game left a sour taste in my mouth and it’s not a case of sour grapes because the better team won today but I’ll tell you to describe today’s football, do you know what I’d describe it as…I’d call it puke football.”

2) Spillane on Dublin vs Donegal 2011 'Shi'ite Football'

Dublin vs Donegal in the All-Ireland semi-final back in 2011 certainly isn't remembered as a classic. Pat Spillane was far from amused by what he had watched at half-time.

“I don’t know what to say. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I can understand the effectiveness of this defensive system, I can understand that they’re not in the business of entertainment and I can understand that it’s all about results and Donegal people won’t give a tuppenny if they win an All-Ireland playing this sort of football but heaven help us Michael if this is the way the game of Gaelic football is going to go because I’ve seen the apocalypse there in the last 38 minutes.


Remember that tribe in Iraq, the Shia tribe, well we’ve watched shi’ite football.

"There are people that go the Hague Michael for war crimes, some of the coaches these days should be (sent there) for crimes against Gaelic football.”



3). Spillane randomly references Imran Khan - 2013

During coverage of the All-Ireland football final in 2013 between Dublin and Mayo, Joe Brolly made a comparison between the boxer Amir Khan and the Dublin football team. Michael Lyster thought Brolly was talking about the cricketer Imran Khan, prompting Spillane to recall a moment from an Adelaide night club back in 1981.

"I was in Adelaide in 1981, true story, in a nightclub I was trying to chat this girl up she said – “you know who I was with last night, Imran Khan”. Well, I said you go back if you meet him and tell him who you were with last night, Pat Spillane, Kerry footballer…I hadn’t my All-Ireland medals on me.”


4) Spillane on the 1996 All-Ireland football final brawl

The 1996 All-Ireland final replay between Meath and Mayo is quite memorable. Spillane provided forensic analysis on the massive brawl that ensued during the game with his usual wit.

“Here Liam McHale arrives, jumps in and a wonderful gap opens up, he hits nobody at all and goes straight through but unfortunately the whole county of Meath seems to come on top of him and the poor man got an awful killing in this incident. All hell broke loose, and it was very unfortunate. The umpire came out at this stage but in his wisdom, he removed himself again.”

Spillane wasn't finished his analysis.


“Watch Jimmy McGuiness, number eight, he arrives on the scene. He exercises his right leg a little bit here, stretching I presume, continues on then and he meets Colm McManamon.

Watch him there, he’s looking for a little bit of action, he looks around, just tries to trip some fella, runs along and who does he meet only the unfortunate Colm McManamon. He does a nice little sumo wrestling impersonation here.

"Fair play to McManamon he held his ground and McGuinness couldn’t drop him. So, McGuinness leaves McManamon but it wasn’t all over. In a short while you’ll see he actually comes back again, look there’s McManamon after finishing, back again he says I must finish off this action and I tell you this he’d make Michael Flatley eat his heart out because this is a wonderful high leg action here by him, a wonderful stretch in the right foot.”


5) Spillane on Covid cases in the Tyrone camp

One for the ages. Pat Spillane and Sean Cavanagh went head-to-head before Kerry vs Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final last year. Spillane was not happy with the Tyrone camp.

"When there's a vacuum of information, into that vacuum comes misinformation, false narratives, innuendo - and that's what you got.

And I still have so many question marks - I'm curious, why did so many people at the one time in the Tyrone camp get Covid?

"Did close contacts come to the Ulster final, did close contacts go to this socialising event?"

Greatest Pat Spillane Quotes

6) Spillane asks "what sort of game do we want?"

Pat was from impressed by what he witnessed in the first half of the Ulster Championship encounter between Cavan and Fermanagh in 2013.

This game of Gaelic football has been infiltrated by a load of spoofers and bluffers, people with no experience in some cases of Gaelic football, fellas with ear pierces stuck in their ears, psychologists, statisticians, dieticians and going back to what Colm said we’ve forgotten the basic principles of the game, the catch and kick and the fact that the game is still won by the team who can score more than the opposition."


7) Pat Spillane on when the Kerry team knew it was done

That great Kerry team travelled to San Francisco to play the All-Stars in 1987. It was a memorable trip for the great Kerry team who dominated in the late 70's and early 80's but it also dawned on them out there that they wouldn't be returning to the top.

"On the 1986/87 All-Star tour, Kerry were All-Ireland champions and playing the All-Stars, and we knew it was the end of the line.”

"We're in America and this is our last gig. The legs were gone, the mileage was up.

"We had to play the All-Stars in San Francisco in Balboa Park, and we went on the tear the day before. The whole day Saturday down in Fisherman's Wharf, the worst drinking session I was ever on.

I think the All-Stars beat us by about 30 points. We were the saddest bunch of fellas to ever represent Kerry. O'Dwyer never usually got angry, and we never trained on tour and this was the only time ever he got cross. O'Dwyer insisted we go training the following day.

"So he found a beach in San Francisco and we had to run a half an hour out and a half an hour back. And you knew the writing was on the wall because the winner of the race was the County Board Chairman and he was running in his sandals!

"Second in the run, which came as a big surprise to O'Dwyer, was The Bomber (Eoin Liston). What O'Dwyer didn't know was that he had hid behind sand-dunes on the way out so he only joined us for the last couple of kilometres.

"That was our last tour as All-Ireland winners."

8) Spillane's love affair with Ulster football 

For a long time Spillane was a vocal critic of Ulster football however in latter years he warmed to the quality of the games.

My love-in with the Ulster Championships continues, the best three matches we’ve got in this year’s championship have come out of the Ulster Championship and do you know what I was thinking? If Tinder did provincial championships, I’d be swiping right to Ulster.”

9) Learn Spanish with Pat Spillane

As previously stated the Kerry man has a way with words but clearly not with only the English language. After the 2012 All-Ireland football final where Donegal beat Mayo, Spillane tried his hand at some Spanish as he tried to explain how Donegal had claimed victory.

“There’s a term in Spanish soccer describing a player with a killer pass that can unlock a packed defence and it’s called a ‘desatascador’ and a desatascador is a fella called a plunger or an unblocker.

Unfortunately, Mayo today hadn’t a plunger or an unblocker there who could open up that block defence.”


10) Spillane reckons he found a cure for insomnia

Pat Spillane was far from entertained at half-time of the Connacht Championship encounter between Mayo and Roscommon in 2014 and believes watching it could help cure insomnia.

If perhaps we could maybe patent that 35 minutes and sell it, maybe we have now discovered a cure for insomnia.”

SEE ALSO: Pat Spillane Says He Was Once Punched By Donegal Fans

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