How Harry Redknapp fell in love with GAA

Former Tottenham and West Ham manager decamped to Cork for 'The Toughest' challenge

BY Ciaran Bradley 15:08 Thursday 12 July 2018, 15:08 12 Jul 2018

Harry Redknapp might come to Ireland more often, now that he has fallen in love with the GAA.

Redknapp has been coaching Castlehaven GAA in Cork, in association with AIB, as part of their 'The Toughest' campaign. Harry will come up against another side managed by former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli, as former London rivals relocated to Munster. We caught up with Harry, who told us the reasons behind his newfound passion.

"I loved it, I was fantastic experience for me. I went there with very little idea about what the game is about, to be honest with you. In the short time I was there, I fell in love with it - I thought it was an amazing game. I can see why it has got such a big following. It's got plenty of skill, it's got the aggression. It's a tough game!

"It's such an exciting game! I couldn't understand at first why people didn't try to score more and beat the goalkeeper/ I'm thinking 'But it's three points!" But then obviously as I went on, you understood that certain times in a game, you have to go for the three points, and other times you have to take the point when it's there."

It wasn't just the mantra of 'take your point' that won Redknapp over, it was the transferrable skills between soccer and GAA.

"The technique in the game - the way they volley the ball, and their kicking [is similar]. You've got to be a great kicker of the ball. Kicking the ball 30 or 40 yards into someone's hands is a great skill in itself. The way they shoot at goal as well - the volleying technique is important."

Harry was in contemplative form as to the community elements of the GAA compared to soccer in Britain, which he feels has more of an element of transience than its Gaelic counterpart.

"It's difference because your lads are from that community, they are a part of that community and have a feeling for that team. That is the lifeblood of the community. I think our game is different now. We have got people coming from everywhere - they come and play and then go. They spend eighteen months to two years there, kiss the badge and then go!

"The Gaelic football I found in Castlehaven was completely different - they are there and it's their territory. When they are playing a game, they are defending their territory. Everyone is involved in the club; the man who runs the shop - I went in there to buy a paper and he's part of it. The lady in the pub, she runs the ladies' side of the football. Everybody there seemed to be a part of it. It's the lifeblood of the community."

You can watch Harry's full interview above, and can watch OTB AM from 7:45 every weekday morning on our Facebook, YouTube and Periscope channels. If you would like to see more sporting videos, like and subscribe any of our pages or log onto offtheball.com.

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