Retired footballer Ger Brennan explains why some gay players choose to keep their sexuality a secret

Brennan was famed for his all-inclusive speech after winning the All-Ireland club title last year

BY Sinéad Farrell 16:41 Sunday 6 December 2015, 16:41 6 Dec 2015

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Former All-Ireland winning footballer Ger Brennan has opened up on why he thinks so few gay GAA players are willing to identify with their sexuality.

In his winning speech after St Vincent's captured the All-Ireland club title last year, Brennan recognised the boyfriends and girlfriends of players who supported them throughout the campaign. And speaking in the Sunday Independent today, the retired defender believes that the fear of receiving offensive comments from others, is what discourages players from coming out.

'They don't come out because there is a fear of getting the piss taken out of them; men being men we take the absolute piss out of one another a lot, but there are never any prejudices, certainly not within a team environment. I guess bullying is defined if and when the person on the receiving end of a joke doesn't see it as a joke and in that case you have to say, 'Sorry I didn't mean that' and move on and don't do it again.'

Brennan's support of the 'No' vote in the same-sex marriage referendum, provoked a lot of debate during the summer and the reaction to his stance was relatively mixed. But aside from the issue of how people define marriage, Brennan believes that the dressing room is a welcoming environment where people of all backgrounds are generally accepted.

'Generally any team that I have been involved in, we have really slagged each other in a very healthy and positive way - that keeps you grounded. There is a danger of saying stuff and no doubt I have said stuff, but I'd like to think they know me well enough to know I wouldn't intentionally go out to hurt anyone.'

'I would say certainly that Dónal Óg's presence in the GPA and Conor Cusack being involved in player development is a massive plus for equality within the GAA. Knowing Conor personally he is the ideal sounding board for players who are struggling to realise their own sexuality. It will help the culture.'

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