Why I secretly photographed GAA pitches for seven years Paul Carroll travelled 31,000 miles to capture the seasonal changes of GAA for a book Sat 27 Aug 2016 Grange, Co Sligo: The mountain overlooking the home of the Naomh Molaise club here is Ben Bulben which, according to locals, is only clearly visible in the early months of the year. The photo was taken from the goalmouth itself in the dying seconds of the match after Carroll “chanced his arm” and stepped in. Springfield Road, Belfast: Gort na Mona’s pitch is on the side of a hill, hemmed in by houses and a handful of rival clubs, overlooking Belfast, the shipyards, the tower blocks, the hustle and bustle down below. “It’s another example of people wanting to put their identity on an area by having a Gaelic club there.” Achill Sound, Co Mayo: The road runs along what Carroll describes as “kind of an embankment area”. He caught this picture earlier this year after a nine-hour round-trip. “You can stand up on the bank and look down on the field and get the mountain and water and the game in, too.” Inis Oirr, Co Galway: Carroll found himself ferry-hopping between islands. He had been to Inis Oírr and was told a game was taking place on neighbouring Inis Meáin. It wasn’t so he returned to the smaller island and got the shot. The boys with the pony and trap are locals who “could’ve been trying to pick up some tourist traffic”, he reckons. Dripsey, Co Cork: A junior hurling final at the tail-end of 2015 in Dripsey, outside Cork City. The GAA world is a small one: Carroll’s colleague from work, whom he didn’t know was a GAA man, was an umpire; and the man’s brother, who features in the image, was refereeing. Inisturk, Co Mayo: Having spotted this pitch on an online forum, Carroll was determined to capture it – even a car crash in Leenane, Connemara en route didn’t stop him. He discovered his vantage point by accident, having wandered the wrong way around the island. Castlewellan, Co Down: Before this ladies game between Castlewellan and Bryansford, Carroll was asked what he was doing. “I had to explain myself, which didn’t happen too often, but everyone was nice about it then,” he says. “I saw the warm-up and just thought it looked interesting and captured the scene nicely.” Monksland, Co Louth: The final edit is not complete but it looks likely there will be only four photos of ladies football and camogie games in the book. This one was taken in Carlingford as hosts Cooley Kickhams take on city slickers Stephenites, the Dublin champions, in a Leinster club tie. Portarlington, Co Laois: The letters on the seats in the stand read ‘PORT’, local slang for the town. The industrial building overlooking the pitch is an Odlum’s factory. “The two guys look like they’ve become almost symbiotic being together. It was taken in February and you’ve got that grey start to a league campaign feeling,” he says.