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The mighty world of GAA fashion, beards and championship haircuts




Analysis: from collars to crewnecks, flat caps to helmets and from Ciarán McDonald to Brian Cody, the GAA has its own history of fashion

Since the GAA started, iconic fashion statements have been made by individuals in the field. From collars to crewnecks, from flat caps to helmets, the GAA has a history of fashion all its own. As GAA’s commercial power flourishes, we are faced with new fashion trends and the desire to wear the latest kits. But at the heel of the hunt, which is more memorable: fashion or personality?

The summer of 1999 saw Meath Trevor Giles amaze the world of football with its modified aerodynamic jersey. The half-attacker of the stars cut the sleeves of his jersey in the locker room to the slag soundtrack of his teammates. The sleeveless jersey that Giles wore during the winning season of Meath’s All-Ireland in 1999 is now on display at the GAA Museum and in 2015 it was voted the GAA accessory of all time by viewers of second captains.

Second Captains of RTÉ 2, the 5 best GAA accessories of all time

Off the field, former footballer (and pitcher) from Kerry and current managing director of Wexford Paul Galvin turned to fashion design and launched an ongoing clothing collection with Dunnes Stores. In 2017, Galvin collaborated with kit maker O’Neills to design the retro-style jersey for the Kerry team, inspired by the jersey worn by the 1985 winning team in Ireland. Galvin is not alone in his professional exploits in the fashion industry. In 2015, Oisín Murphy appeared in the Parisian edition of Vogue The magazine modeled a GAA jersey the same week, and lost a senior county sands final to Birr.

From RTÉ News, report on the appearance of Birr Hurler and model Oisín Murphy in 2018 in Vogue magazine

Nothing says championship like the traditional haircut. “The Championship Haircut” is part of the pre-match ritual for many GAA players before the start of the season, providing a moment of reflection and preparation. But Mayo Ciarán McDonald went further in his career with a range of extraordinary hairstyles. Ponytails, corn rolls, skinhead and bleached blonde hair: McDonald’s had more hairstyles than medals from all over Ireland, but his classy style of play has always gone beyond what was above his head.

Second captains of RTÉ 2, the first television interview with footballer Mayo Ciarán McDonald

There has been a common thread throughout the history of the use of facial hair to display masculinity and the sports world demands a statistical analysis of the ratio of mustaches and winning teams. The 1980s and 1990s saw the whiskers find a semi-permanent home in the GAA fields. Mayo’s Willie Joe Padden (and his mustache) playing against Tyrone in the semi-final of all Ireland in 1989 with a bandage on the head and a jersey soaked in blood is an emblematic image of Gaelic football. The winning Ireland-wide launch board in 1996 at Wexford shaped several legendary mustaches, many of which still survive to this day, notably from the captain Martin Storey and faithful George O’Connor, otherwise known as “Magnificent George”.

“Brian Cody is in baseball caps like the Blindboy of the Rubberbandits is in plastic bags”

In 2008, Tyrone footballers used the beard as a psychological ploy on their way to success in Ireland. After being beaten by Down in the Ulster Championship, the captain Joe McMahon and many Tyrone players started to grow beards and refused to shave until they were beaten. Ryan McMenamin Later, I noticed “I was thinking of going for a handlebar mustache, but my girlfriend said she would end up with me if I did that.” Whether Tyrone’s beard affirmed masculinity against his opponents or gave them a “warlike advantage”, their elongated facial hair will always partially responsible to extend their summer.

Brian Cody is like baseball caps the Blindboy of the Rubberbandits is to plastic bags. Inflexible and prominent, the two characters are unimaginable without their distinctive helmet. Cody baseball caps have long been a staple of his outfit. The fiery manager of Kilkenny adjusts his cap more aggressively when the game is in a crucible and it is often the easiest way to know if he is stressed. Cody without a cap is like Santa Claus without a beard.

1929 glasses by Clare Hurler John Joe Doyle. Photo: Siobhán Doyle

John Joe “Goggles” Doyle Captain of the Clare launch team in the 1932 All-Ireland final, which they lost to Kilkenny by 3-3 to 2-3. Using bicycle spokes, Doyle designed and manufactured his own goggles to protect his goggles, which are on display in County Clare Museum. Doyle would probably have had a more forgettable nickname if he had worn contact lenses instead. Overall, it is the remarkable personalities who are revolutionizing fashion in GAA, rather than the other way around.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ

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