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Back in the day: The Irish News July 19 1997: Joe Brolly says 'I'm not that terribly interested in football to talk about it'

Talking football. Joe Brolly is now a household name as a Gaelic Football pundit with RTE
Andy Watters

“I’M not going to say very much. It’s a game of two halves etc,” laughs Derry’s Joe Brolly (in an interview before the Ulster final against Tyrone).

It’s the sort of opening line you expect from Joe Brolly - the clown prince of Ulster GAA.

Brolly was surely the first man ever to have played air-guitar at an Ulster GAA ground when he banged in the killer goal against Monaghan in the championship replay last month.

And Matt McGleenan’s uncoordinated efforts apart, no other GAA star has been known to celebrate goals by blowing kisses to the stands.

All the above in recent months have added further anecdotal evidence to Brolly’s playing the fool image. Indeed, the Dungiven man seems happy enough to cultivate this persona.

But Brolly’s showmanship and antics don’t obscure a thinking man.

“You’re going to quote me exactly on what I’ve said, exactly,” cautions Joe after he has already fielded the inevitable personality questions with the ease with which a practising barrister should.

Comedian Patrick Kielty, a Sigerson Cup teammate of Brolly’s at Queen’s in 1992, once quietly admitted that Joe was the only member of that QUB team he wouldn’t dare slag. The retribution would be too much.

Liam Hayes said recently that every county team, and bear in mind he was referring largely to the Meath team of the 1980s and early ‘90s, contains its quota of players who are “plain thick”.

Brolly is not in this category.

The barrister claims to be “bored by talking about football.”

Perhaps it’s his well-honed adversarial skills with you in this instance a gullible judge, yet you cannot but be convinced by this apparent indifference.

“I’m not that terribly interested in football to talk about it. I mean I wouldn’t be a great man to go and watch football matches for example.”

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FIFTY years on from Fred Daly’s Open victory, Darren Clarke yesterday stepped up his bid to take the biggest prize in golf back across the Irish Sea.

The 28-year-old member of Royal Portrush – Daly’s home club – found Royal Troon to his liking yet again, adding a sparkling 66 to his opening 67 for a nine-under-par total of 133.

Clarke said: “I’m delighted to be top of the leaderboard. I felt very relaxed and enjoyed it.

“It’s great to be in the position I am. It’s new for me, but I will play as well as I can over the weekend.

I’m looking forward to it and on Sunday I know there will be pressure.

“It was a great feeling coming up the 18th today. A lot of people were encouraging me all the way round.

“I’m more relaxed generally this year. My caddie Billy Foster has rejoined me after a stupid row last year and we’re getting on very well.

“It was also great to clinch my Ryder Cup place early. It’s enabled me to concentrate on playing and winning tournaments.I think if I can be in contention come the last round I believe I can give it a go. I feel very comfortable.”

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THE romantic idea of Antrim winning an Ulster football title may be appealing to the neutrals in the crowd at Clones, but it has little chance of materialising tomorrow.

That’s seems to be the popular opinion in Ulster and although Antrim have not been in an Ulster football final for 15 years, no-one is giving them a chance of beating hot favourites Tyrone at Clones (2pm).

That’s just the way Antrim manager Brian White likes it, insisting that Tyrone will underestimate his team at their peril.

“We have earned the underdogs tag by virtue of the fact that we’re from Antrim and we’re supposed to be whipping boys of Ulster football,” he said.

“Having said that, there are seven other counties who would love to be where we are.”

The two teams met earlier in the season in the Ulster minor league when Tyrone squeaked out a one point win - a win White says they were fortunate to get.

“We really should have won that game and we have four players on tomorrow who didn’t play in the league so it should be interesting.”

The young Saffrons have done magnificently to get as far as they have, but aren’t likely to be settling for second best tomorrow.

Victories over Donegal and Cavan have enabled them to go a step further than last year, when they were beaten at the semi-final stage by the eventual All-Ireland finalists Donegal.

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