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'You can't even have a Lucozade on a Friday night without being questioned'

Is GAA getting too serious? Brendan Maher’s trip Down Under taught him to have more fun.

Brendan Maher appears on RTÉ2 this evening.
Brendan Maher appears on RTÉ2 this evening.
Image: Sportsfile

TIPPERARY HURLING CAPTAIN Brendan Maher believes an element of fun needs to be brought back into GAA after his recent cricketing experience in Australia.

The 27-year-old spent a week with the Adelaide Strikers as he tried his hand at cricket as part of AIB’s ‘The Toughest Trade.’

Maher was struck by the Big Bash League outfit’s approach to training and how the players, all of whom are professional, were given the freedom outside of the dressing room.

“One of the main things I took out of it is that in most GAA teams, training is very serious,” he said, ahead of this evening’s airing of the documentary.

“Everything is like ‘you can’t laugh or you can’t smile’ nearly. And I just noticed that in the warm-ups for the cricket training it was all laughing and joking, very relaxed.

“And I was thinking ‘maybe we should have that approach a little bit more in the GAA’, that you bring a little more element of fun into your sessions.

“I wouldn’t say the fun element (of GAA) is lost but I would say there has been a change.

“You see the club scene at home as well, you talk about the AIB club championship and how tough that has gone and the standard of training is after sky-rocketing.

“There isn’t much I would change about the GAA. To be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing. The GAA is brilliant but that is the one thing I took away from the whole experience.

“I would be very serious at training and I said to myself in our warm-up and that, don’t be afraid to laugh and joke. Bring a bit of fun and enjoy yourself a bit more, that is probably one of the stand-out moments.”

As the Tipp hurler immersed himself in the set-up and got to know the Adelaide Strikers players, they couldn’t get the head around the fact he and his team-mates don’t get paid for their efforts.

Brendan Maher 1/6/2014 Maher believes GAA players need to have more fun. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

And while he wouldn’t change anything about the amateur sport he plays, Maher vented his frustration at the criticism GAA players receive for enjoying any sort of social life.

“It would kind of annoy you that you could be in a pub having a Lucozade and someone says, ‘What are you doing here?’ “You’re going, ‘Well I’m just here with my friends, can I not be here for an hour?’

“That’s the kind of stuff that would annoy you, that you can’t even be seen out in a social setting with your friends even though you’re just sitting there drinking a sparkling water.

“You’re told, ‘You shouldn’t be out’. It could be half nine on a Friday night.

“You’d be at functions even, you could go to something that you’re trying to support or it could be something to do with the club and they’d be going, ‘Ah, it’s 11 o’clock now, you should be at home in bed’.”

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Ryan Bailey

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