Regrets, we’ve had a few, say GAA players in school fundraiser

Leitrim pupils ask sports stars how they’d do things differently

Temper tantrums, racist remarks and missed opportunities on the soccer field, are among the regrets shared by some of the GAA’s best known stars when quizzed by schoolchildren for a book to be published later this month.

Mayo footballing legend Conor Mortimer still regrets "throwing a Mayo jersey into the crowd" in what newspapers described as a show of petulance after he was substituted during an All-Ireland qualifier in 2002. Mortimer also told pupils from St Hugh's primary school in Dowra, Co Leitrim, that he regrets never having won an all-Ireland medal.

When children from the two-teacher school wrote to more than 150 GAA greats and asked for their regrets, they expected to hear a lot of yarns about All-Ireland titles which got away. They got that, but much more as well.


Former Roscommon goalie


Shane Curran

didn’t express regret for one of his school day escapades when he helped to blow up a science lab in Castlerea Vocational School, but he did regret not having been a professional soccer player. “Unfortunately, my ambition to play in


was never realised,” he said.

Meath's Graham Geraghty, who was at centre of a racism storm following an International rules game against Australia in 1999, told the pupils: "I called an aborigine player something I shouldn't have. If I could turn back the clock to that moment I would handle things differently.'

Geraghty also said he regretted letting football rule his life. “I never went to college until last year,” he said. “So if I can give you any advice, it would be study hard, play hard and most of all enjoy life.”

More than 30 years after the so-called "game of shame" when Dublin beat Galway in the 1983 All-Ireland clash, Ciaran Duff still feels that being one of four players sent off, "spoiled the victory" for him.

Richie Connor, who captained Offaly in the 1979 Leinster final against Dublin, regrets that he was composing his victory speech on the field with minutes to go, because the Dubs snatched victory in the dying moments of the game. "I vowed I would never consider a speech before we won after that," Connor said. And that decision was a cause for further regret when, three years later, Offaly scuppered Kerry's five-in-a-row All-Ireland dream, and he had nothing prepared.

"We asked a straight question and we got straight answers," said Padraig Kenny, principal of St Hugh's , who was on the Leitrim county team that won the Connacht final in 1994.


He did admit to some doubt about former Dublin star Tony Hanahoe’s assertion that having lived in Kinlough in his youth, he regretted not having played for Leitrim. More plausibly, Hanahoe also had regrets about the 1978 All-Ireland final when Kerry beat the Dubs by 17 points .

The Scrapbook of Regrets is the work of first to sixth class pupils in the 43-pupil school and will fund an upgrade of their school pitch, which gets so wet that it is unplayable in winter.

The book will be launched by GAA president Aogan O’Fearghail at the old courthouse in Dowra on Sunday, November 22nd.

The Scrapbook of Regrets will be in on sale at 60 outlets and online at

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland