GAA Football

Ulster Rugby's Tommy Bowe hails commitment of GAA players

A happy Tommy Bowe and Paddy Jackson Picture by Hugh Russell

ULSTER’S Tommy Bowe admits that he doesn’t know if he would have fulfilled a career in GAA had he not gone down the path of professional rugby.

In an exclusive interview in today’s Irish News, the former Monaghan and Emyvale underage player hailed the commitment of modern day Gaelic footballers and says that it “puzzles me” how they balance their sporting and working lives.

Pointing to the example of his sister Hannah, who went down the amateur sporting path and represented Ireland in hockey, the Ulster winger – who also breaks the myth that he played county minor – says he would probably have studied in Scotland had it not been for a chance call into the Ulster Academy.

“I know Hannah would have trained as hard as we were here, plus working a full shift on top of that. I know chatting to a few of the Gaelic lads, they’re the exact same.

“It puzzles me how they’re able to do it. I don’t know whether I’d have had the commitment or if I’d have been able to do it.

“I’d like to think I would have but realistically I probably would have just enjoyed the social side of it, enjoyed the craic and going out playing with my mates.

“But to put in the commitment that they do plus hold down full-time jobs, you can’t have anything but complete admiration for them.

“It’s serious commitment, especially the guys who are the top, those guys are pretty much professional athletes. It shows the way they’re playing. The fitness levels and skill levels are phenomenal.”

Bowe, who will start on the wing for Ulster as they bid to complete a sensational European double over Clermont tomorrow, also says that Gaelic football now bears little resemblance to the game he played as a teenager.

  Bowe (front right) pictured with his Emyvale teammates

A former underage team-mate of Monaghan veterans Paul Finlay, Dessie Mone, Vinny Corey and Stephen Gollogly, Bowe was on the county’s under-16 and under-17 squads before he chose to concentrate on rugby.

“The game has become like rugby; it’s a very complex game compared to the one I would have played. I’ve only got to watch a few games live but when I have, I can’t believe how structured it is and how well organised the teams are now.

“It’s not just a case of having players in their normal positions; it’s a case of trying to work scores and find weak links and that sort of thing.

“The game I’d have played would be very different to the one you see now. I do enjoy it, seeing the different ways the Dubs play, and Mayo, and even Monaghan, how well they’ve gone in recent years.”

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