The official guide to being a GAA snob

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We’ve all met the GAA snob on our travels. An insufferable character at the best of times, here is your eight-point guide to the cardinal rules of being a GAA snob.

One: You’ve always seen a better game. No matter how pulsating the clash you’ve just witnessed has been, no matter how epic the thrilling encounter, you must always be able to play your trump card by mentioning a match you witnessed that was superior in some way. If you have to go as far down the food chain as an Under-14 B league game to find something to reference, so be it. The idea is to make sure that everybody else sitting around the table basking in the glory of what they’ve just witnessed in person should lose a little of their after-glow when they hear you wax lyrical about an obscure fixture. “If you thought this was special, wait til I tell you about…”

Two: You knew he was good before anyone else. This is the card to play on days when a new star announces himself on the national stage. While everybody else is purring about his wondrous performance, you must establish your credentials by pointing out that you first glimpsed his potential years before most people had even heard of him. Again, the farther back you can go to find this evidence the better. A street league match in which the guy scored four goals is obviously the perfect play here but any off-Broadway game in which you saw him before he hit the mainstream also works. “There weren’t ten people there to see him play that dirty, wet morning I can tell you…”

Three: You make sure to get at least one away league game involving your county every year. This is an absolutely vital part of being snobbish and looking down your nose at your fellow travellers. It will allow you to exert moral superiority over all others during the championship. The farther away you travelled for that particular game and the worse the winter weather you endured getting there the better. Never mind how insignificant the league encounter was, the important thing is that you can name-drop a couple of the nearly men who played that day. This will make the casual fans at your table on a balmy summer afternoon get all sheepish and easily impressed. “It was the weekend of the bad ice but sure I drove anyway….”

Four: You must exaggerate your own playing prowess. You can go one of two ways with this. You can claim you were very good. Don’t go too far and say you were a county minor or anything. That’s too easy to disprove in the Internet age. You can mention the county medal you won at U-16 without bringing up the fact you were number 25 on a panel of 25, a small boast to separate you from the non-playing arrivistes. Alternatively, you can exaggerate how bad you were. Tell them you couldn’t hurl snow off a rope despite all the years training you put in. This makes you sound like a purist, a devotee of the game that broke your heart. “I loved the sport much more than it ever loved me…”

Five: You must take the contrarian position in every argument. Whatever the consensus view is, you voice the opposite opinion. Always and loudly. If the rest are saying before the match your team will win handy, you’ll vouchsafe it’ll be much harder than everybody expects. If they are saying after the match that your county will come through the qualifiers easily enough, you adopt your gloomiest face and announce, “We’ll be down for years yet.” If somebody claims a player looked unfit out there, you testify that you have it on good authority he’s the fittest man on the panel and his Yo-Yo test scores are off the chart. “I’m not saying you’re wrong but let me tell you…”

Six: You had to go to greater lengths than anybody else to get to this game. And you spend hours telling everybody you meet about the incredible odyssey you embarked upon to make it to the pub two hours before throw-in to sip pints and pontificate. Feel free to bore everybody to death with tales of the planes, boats and trains you had to take to get there. If you can pepper your yarn with travel near-misses and the anger of the missus, that should do the trick too. “I said to the wife, ‘you think I’m missing a championship match for our tenth anniversary holiday’…”

Seven: You look down on whichever code your county is weaker at. To sound convincing, you must denounce it at every opportunity. By all means, feel free to blame all the county’s problems in your favoured code on the board giving too much time and money to the other. If you are a hurling snob, make sure to trot out Christy Ring’s line about football being a game for bad hurlers. If you are a football snob (they do exist, I swear), point out that hurling isn’t even a national game, it’s more of a regional delicacy. “I’ve said it for years that game has this county ruined…”

Eight: You must claim a close association with a member of the panel or the backroom team. It doesn’t matter if the closest you come to knowing an actual player is that you work in the same building as the sub goalkeeper and nod at him in the corridor occasionally. The important thing is to give off the air of somebody with genuine inside knowledge of goings-on in the camp. Who’s in? Who’s out?  Nobody will know that your “knowledge” is really just a few Internet rumours you’ve cobbled together from the more hardcore message boards, at least not if you deliver them in a convincing enough tone. “Come ‘ere til I tell you what I heard from somebody who shouldn’t have even been speaking to me about this…”
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