Ten varieties of GAA supporters you are likely to meet this summer.

Over the past fifteen or so years I have travelled the length and breadth of the country, visiting nearly every G.A.A ground and mixing with supporters from nearly every county in Ireland.

One thing that has struck me from my travels is that there are different categories of fans that can be associated with the vast majority of inter-county fans.

The following is a list of ten type’s of different supporters that I have come across several times.

  1. The unhinged zealot.

This is the guy that usually stands in the terrace screaming abuse at the referee and the players from the opposition. He has to be restrained by an embarrassed friend or family member from jumping the barrier on to the pitch and assaulting the referee.

This guy gets so into the game that sometimes when he shouts his voice breaks and he is often on the verge of tears at games. When his team loses he won’t say a word until roughly four hours after the game and no matter what the talent is like in D2 that night, it still won’t cheer him up.

2. The genuine supporter.

Most G.A.A fans fall into this category. Usually a family man or woman who bring their children to the games and have them decked head to toe in the county colours. This supporter cheers for their team without making too much of a scene or causing offence to the opposition fans.

Weather permitting buys a ‘Golly bar’ ice-cream for the kids at half time and has a packet of hard sweets to pass around to other fans in the vicinity regardless of their allegiance.

3. The Shrewd observer.

There is one of these fans in nearly every county. This is the man that nobody is quite sure which team he is supporting. He comes to the games alone; he wears neutral colours to the games and says nothing to anybody. Then when you least expect it he utters a very shrewd observation like ‘That fella caught the last three balls.’

This is the first time that anybody notices he is even there. After the match he follows the crowd to the pub but doesn’t drink. Instead he stands at the corner of the bar and observes and listens. This man is most frequently seen at Kerry matches.

4. The Mammy.

There are plenty of Mammies at G.A.A games. These are the people who bring flasks of tea with them and enough plastic beakers to dish out to plenty of fans including the opposition.  This type of fan from my experience tends to be from Ulster counties, Tyrone and Donegal in particular.

They tend to care more about the well-being of the fans around them, than the outcome of the match.

5. The fair weather fan.

This is the guy that will go to a match if his county team is going well and are expected to win. He/she never shouts at a particular player just something along the lines of ‘Come on the Cats’. Spends a lot of the game on his phone or looking around at the great views that Croke Park has to offer. Feigns excitement or disappointment depending on the result. Wears the county jersey to help him pull that night… but only if his team wins.

6. The foreign student.

Around June/July time, a host of either Spanish or French students descend upon Croke Park to take in a match. Much to the annoyance of every other supporter in the ground, they seem not to have a notion what is going on. Most of them look like they would rather be anywhere else. Some have earphones in and the others just chat busily. Worst of all, if there is a minutes silence to be observed before the game they proceed to talk through it.

7. The soccer fan.

I don’t mean to cause offence but Dublin fans, you know what I’m about to say. I have been to countless Dublin matches over the years and have come across this fan more often than not. They tend to have all of the gear on, ear rings and tattoos, things that are very much frowned upon by the genuine G.A.A supporter. When the opposition hits a wide, they turn around to the opposition supporters waving their arms with glee, bullishly chanting ‘who are ye, who are ye?’

However, like in 2010 when Cork came from behind to beat the Dubs in the All-Ireland semi-final by the time the opposition go in front, the soccer fan is half way out the gate in disgust, not able for the slagging back from the genuine supporter.

Luckily for him ‘you-ni-ra’ are playing some team from Qatar in a pre-season friendly afterwards to cheer him up again.

8. The rubber-necker.

This fan tends not to come from a successful county. They’re not used to the sound of cheering and as a result of this turn their heads around (very annoyingly) every time a fan behind them lets out a roar.

9. The drunken lout.

Can be from any county. Reeks of drink and stumbles around the terraces completely oblivious to the pure theatre unfolding on the pitch. Usually befriends the unhinged zealot before the final whistle as he will agree with everything the zealot shouts. The result doesn’t affect this guy; he’s just there to party.

10. The antagonist.

This fan goes out of his way to antagonise opposition fans. Often refers to opposition players as thugs and claims that his team play a much cleaner brand. Will over enthusiastically cheer when his team scores and won’t give any credit to the other team. Is often threatened by opposition fans which only spurs him on.

The G.A.A championship is fast approaching. I have no doubt you will come across at least half of these fans over the Summer months.

Ben Egan

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