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The Only GAA Story In Shay Given's Book Involves Brawls And Bare Arses

The Only GAA Story In Shay Given's Book Involves Brawls And Bare Arses
By Mikey Traynor
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It's no surprise that the autobiography of one of Ireland's most well-respected footballers has served up a few cracking tales that we had never heard before, and even though 'Any Given Saturday' was released last week we are still finding amusing little anecdotes throughout the summary of Shay Given's life and career.

It's difficult to find a top-level Irish athlete that doesn't have some form of GAA background, and although Given insisted that football was always his first love on a number of occasions, he too interchanged codes on occasion as a youngster in Donegal.


As a teenager, Given and his two brothers would sometimes play for the local GAA club in Lifford, and the man who would go on to earn 134 caps for the Republic of Ireland recalled one particularly crazy encounter with a team from a nearby town.

Given tells of one particular game in which the aggression on the pitch resulted in locals arriving down in their droves for a scrap, from which the Lifford team had to escape. But not without a parting gift.

The Given boys were always in scrapes, no matter what code of football we were playing. Every year in Lifford, there would be a Married Men vs Single Men Gaelic game. It was the roughest, hardest game of the year. One day, me, Liam, and Kieran [Given's brothers] played for Lifford club Namoh Padraig Leifear against Glenswilly and it wasn't much different.

A few of their guys were trying to knock lumps out of me. I was in midfield that day rather than in goal for some reason and it was all going off while Liam was having an almighty battle with their defenders. Next thing, someone is sparko'd and Liam's marker is on the floor seeing birdies.

The pair of them ended up brawling and both were sent off. The word got out that there was trouble down at the match, and before we knew it, all these Massey Ferguson tractors turned up. The locals were getting restless. Cars started pouring into the car park. Suddenly there were fights everywhere and people were throwing punches in every direction.

A bloke called John Tourish used to drive the minibus and he wasn't messing about. The minute the ref blew the final whistle we all legged it to the bus, he was revving in the car park shouting "C'mon lads, hurry!" It was proper mad, pitchfork stuff. He squealed this bus out of the car park as men, women, and children followed, braying at us.

When we got to the safety of the main road, we lined up, dropped out shorts, and said our own unique farewell to the good people of Glenswilly - a row of white arses pressed against the window!

That kind of madness set me in good stead for what was to come when I played for the [Lifford Celtic] men's team.

Perhaps that close shave put him off somewhat, as Given soon committed himself fully to soccer and it turned out to be a decent decision. He was a starter for Lifford Celtic men's team at 14 years old, and soon after began his apprenticeship at Celtic.

We imagine he is not welcome in Glenswilly to this day.

SEE ALSO: Shay Given Reveals Gary Kelly's Fondness For Running Head-First Into Hedges

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