A tremendous piece from Quirke, he skewers auld Joe the grandest. I’d say Joe had a good laugh reading it.
MIKE QUIRKE: Joe Brolly playing the shame game against Colm Cooper
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Could Cooper yet be forced to walk naked in atonement through the streets of Killarney, asks Mike Quirke.
I’ve always had a notion to write a book at some stage. Not about myself, of course. No way. Let’s be honest, a few hundred pages reading about my inglorious time playing — and moreover, not playing — with Kerry would be about as big a seller as sun cream in December.
Kerry guys have done so many autobiographies in the past 10-15 years, there really can’t be much left that hasn’t already been said.
Jack O’Connor started it off with his book after his first stint in charge. Darragh, Paul Galvin, Tomás, Donaghy, and now Gooch is the latest to follow his lead and all have penned a memoir of their glory filled playing days in green and gold.
I can’t say I’ve read any of them, not one. I know too well that the best of stories those boys could tell could never go into any book for public consumption.
Over the weekend, Joe Brolly, the GAA’s very own self-appointed moral compass, gave Gooch another blast. The testimonial diaries rumble on. He even threw Michael Healy-Rae into the mix for good measure for having the audacity to label Joe’s comments on Gooch’s testimonial ‘begrudgery’. But Michael should have known better. He broke one of Joe’s key commandments (thou shalt not criticise me in any way or you will face my wrath — I giveth, but not taketh), and he paid the price.
Brolly increasingly reminds me of the fictional character from Game Of Thrones called the High Sparrow. Do you remember the guy? The High Sparrow was the leader of a group of religious zealots who dedicated every waking moment of their lives to fighting any and all vices going on in the city of King’s Landing.
Such was his power, he even imprisoned the mother of the King, Cersei Lannister, for her egregious moral indiscretions.
Eventually in captivity he broke her and forced her to make her ‘walk of atonement’ through the streets of her own city, naked, in front of her own people as they spat and threw objects at her. As she walked slowly along the cobbled stones the crowd grew angrier and louder. ‘Shame’ they screamed as she passed. ‘Shame! Shame!’
It could easily have been Joe playing the role. I can see it now, maybe in a few weeks’ time, Colm Cooper walking through the streets of Killarney with no clothes on, while the High Sparrow steps along dutifully just behind him.
He’s ringing a bell as they pass the jarveys and the horses lift their snout from their feed bags to check the commotion… Shame! Shame! Shame!
Now there’s an image you could probably have lived your whole life without entertaining. I apologise in advance for any future mental anguish as a result.
The High Sparrow must maintain the highest of moral standards within the association.
He has assumed the role of protector of the original ethos of Michael Cusack and the founding fathers of the association all those years ago back in 1884.
Back then, they knew what was what. They didn’t form an association for the good of the few over the many. The GAA was conceived on ideals of a collective community spirit, volunteerism, and looking after each other when the need was greatest.
But over time, like King’s Landing, the city has lost its way and become filled with sin and those sins must be punished.
A line had to be drawn in the sand and we should count ourselves lucky to have a High Sparrow with the moral stout-heartedness to call out the likes of Cooper for his acts of selfishness and make a mockery of him for the whole country to see. A modern-day forced walk of atonement.
The High Sparrow himself is, of course, free of sin, having atoned many years ago. He does not take a red cent from any Gael for doing any GAA fundraising event around the country. That’s not what the association is about, he maintains. Now, the fact that he is in such demand and has the profile he has, could have something to do with the exposure he has received on RTÉ.
But you must remember, that is a contracted service he provides, payment for that has nothing to do with the GAA. They are the national broadcaster, he takes nothing from the GAA. Can you see the distinction?
Sure, it’s clear as mud.
The Sparrow played Gaelic football in his younger days, blew kisses to his loyal followers, and was always a fearsome warrior leader when his people needed him most in moments of great adversity on the field.
By beating a ferociously manly team of giant Cork men in the final of 1993 (not like those cowardly, anaemic Mayo and Cork teams of Gooch’s generation who just capitulated at the sight of the Kerry jersey), the Sparrow claimed a Celtic Cross truly worth winning.
The fact that it was that very same amateur hobby of playing Gaelic football that has propelled the High Sparrow into the national spotlight he now inhabits appears slightly lost on him. But nevertheless, if he tells us that he is not profiting from the GAA in the same way as Cooper, either directly or indirectly, as a result of playing the game, we should just obey and believe him. We learn from Michael Healy-Rae’s mistakes.
I’m sure if he never played Gaelic football for Derry, the High Sparrow would still be on the Sunday Game and writing columns pontificating with the same moral conviction and providing the country with the guidance we so desperately need, wouldn’t he?
Remember, Cooper’s sin again. Thou shalt not profit from the association, for fear of eroding the ethos of purity and light the Sparrow has taken a sacred oath to protect.
In fairness, he has used his platform to do great work and has always remained true to the ideals of the association. Central to those would be driven by the sense of community and fellowship for other Gaels.
The High Sparrow told Seán Cavanagh he was ‘not a man’. Remember that? He used his national platform to vilify a guy who made a decision to drag down an opponent while partaking in his hobby and was rightly crucified for it on live television. I’m sure the association’s sense of community spirit was only enhanced by such a glorious crusade by someone being paid handsomely to criticise someone who was not being paid at all. It was done for the good of the association as a whole. True altruism.
Or how about when he tackled Marty? The Sparrow got him with a good one, didn’t he? How the true Gaels up and down the country must have rejoiced when he said Cavan football is “as ugly as Marty Morrissey”.
Marty’s crimes weren’t as obvious as Seán Cavanagh’s but we’re sure the Sparrow had his reasons for grotesquely embarrassing another Gael for the sake of a punchline. After all, isn’t that another pillar of the association he fights so vehemently to protect? Respect for one another.
There have been plenty of others of course. I recall how proud the true Gaels were when the High Sparrow labelled Rachel Wyse, the Sky Sports presenter, a ‘Baywatch babe’.
True to the exemplar of Cusack and the founding members who surely discussed crass sexism in Hayes Hotel as something to aspire to for all members.
Gooch is the latest and continuing focus of Sparrow.
If after finishing playing GAA, it provides a platform with which to profit from financially, whether that be writing an autobiography, doing TV and radio, writing a newspaper column or doing a testimonial, they are all just slightly different shades of the same colour of money, in my view.
The indignation of the High Sparrow towards Cooper’s desire to further profit from his profile as a great of the game is as misplaced as his tendency to embarrass and make fun of people from his self-righteous pedestal. He is a constant and consistent contradiction.
The crime weighed against Cooper’s testimonial is that it is at odds with the very ethics the association holds dear. I would argue that hypocrisy is as heinous a sin. You don’t get to be selective with your indignation. You don’t get to be a hypocrite.