Silly Hunt And The Wolly Brolly

Everyone loves a war of words in sports; two verbal gladiators going head-to-head. It adds to an already exciting spectacle. Some of these spars descend into Punch and Judy farce, though. Some were already like that from the start.

In his Sunday Independent column last week, Stephen Hunt, the former Rep. of Ireland midfielder, in response to Joe Brolly’s comments that soccer players were not role models, intimated that GAA stars would not be able to cope mentally with the demands of being a professional football player.

“As somebody who grew up in the GAA, I can tell you that, as much as I love the games, if GAA players tried to live with the level of commitment shown by a professional footballer, they wouldn’t know what hit them.”

Soccer - International Friendly - Republic of Ireland v Czech Republic - Aviva Stadium

In his piece, essentially, Hunt was making the point that Gaelic football and hurling players wouldn’t have the mentality and dedication to show the professionalism needed to excel in his line of work which, when all is taken into account, is a rather misplaced and petty remark.

Hunt is a professional footballer paid handsomely for his efforts and therefore able to rest when needed. He has little else to worry about. Eat, sleep, train, repeat.

If GAA players were given anywhere near the same recompense for their efforts and the ability to concentrate solely on training rather than a full time job in tow with what is practically full-time training, they too could rest accordingly. The level of commitment shown by these players at elite level is absolutely unmatched and, in a lot of cases, frankly frightening.


If Hunt’s point was unreasonable and misguided, Joe Brolly’s comments in response to it were childish and immature beyond belief, unbecoming of a man his age and intelligence.

“I don’t imagine Stephen would have lasted five minutes in the Ulster club final last Sunday. I wouldn’t fancy his chances standing on the edge of the square with Patsy Bradley,” Brolly wrote in the Irish Independent.

“If you look at that astounding application – lads putting their bodies on the line – and you think of someone like poor Stephen Hunt standing in the middle of that, it would be like the Christians in the Colosseum…fed to the lions.”

You mean the same Stephen Hunt, a professional athlete with the reputation of being a bit of a hardy buck, who grew up within a GAA community, wouldn’t last in one of its games, Joe? Someone relocate the toys, folks – the pram has been emptied.


Brolly’s riposte is symptomatic of the insecurity that pervades the GAA. This mentality that, because these amateur sportsmen are so dedicated and so committed, that the rest of the world owes them a favour; that they’re looked down upon as being inferior, when, in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth: elite GAA players are admired by all and sundry.

I would contest that the ‘True Gaels’ Brolly so revers would be rather ashamed and embarrassed by his comments.

Herein lies the crux of the issue: why continually compare and contrast both sports in attempt to belittle each other? What does it achieve? Soccer and the GAA are both fantastic sports. It’s okay to love and respect both equally. What both Hunt and Brolly have achieved with this slanging match is nothing other than dragging the name of both games through the mud once again.