Interview with John Murphy: Chairperson of European GAA (GGE)

John Murphy is the chairperson of the GGE (Gaelic Games Europe) and a good friend to GAA Clubs around the continent. We came into contact (outside of meetings) in the aftermath of our Cork Trip in October 2022. He helped us to secure an article with (see here: „Cologne Celtics forge strong links with St. Finbarr’s„).

Following that chat, it was clear that John was a man with big ideas for European GAA going forward and would be a great person to chat with about the direction Gaelic Games are going. This impression was not wrong! John kindly chatted with us for quite a while about his life, his involvement with GAA in Rochester, New York, Amsterdam GAC, his role in GGE and future plans for GAA in Europe.

Warning, when two Corkmen get together, it can be difficult to get us to stop chatting. Here is the full recording with John.

Hey John, how are you? Can you introduce yourself to us?

Yeah, good evening, Oisín. My name is John Murphy. Originally from Cork but now based in Amsterdam. I’m the chairperson of Gaelic Games Europe – the European County board.

Good to see a Corkman in that position. Now, where are you from in Cork?

I’m out in Glenville, so you’re near Glanmire… between Glanmire and Mallow.

How was it going up in Cork?
Ah, it was class! The answer all Cork people give!

I grew up on a farm out in the countryside. For me, that’s my yoga retreat. It is going home milking cows. There are no yoga mats or walking the Camino. I need to go home, milk cows, and do the silage, and I feel like a much better person after a few days of that. So, yeah, it was fantastic raring to have, and I’m still very fond of it, and it still brings me a lot of joy to stay involved in it.

That sounds a bit different from being in Amsterdam!

Yeah, there are not too many cows in Amsterdam! Yeah. A bit of a different world. So maybe, it’s the juxtaposition of the two worlds that compliment them nicely.

Did you have much of a GAA background growing up in Cork?

I actually didn’t, so I suppose I came to this, Oisín, in a very weird way. I suppose most of my early life was spent between Glenville and the Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, so I was born with a heart defect and wasn’t really allowed to play.

Growing up, you go to primary school, you want to get involved, and you’re mad to do it, but I wasn’t allowed for years and years. I think sixth class was the first time I actually got to play, and that was because I wore down the cardiologist. He was like, fine, you ask me every few months, and we have a checkup for this heart problem. You can play.

So I played sixth class in primary school and maybe in my first and second years in secondary school. Then there was a kibosh, I was getting into my early teens, and the cardiologist was a bit worried about my heart condition.

John enjoying life by the seaside.

What was your club?

Glenville/Watergrasshill. I suppose we’d be perpetually intermediate across the board in all codes, but we did have Eamon Ryan, the Cork ladies‘ football manager, who came from the club, so he was a „club great“, and that’s a pretty good one to have.

Did you go to UCC (University College Cork)?

Yeah, I kept it all close to home. So yeah, I did BIS at UCC. Is that where you went?

It is, yeah. I did Law and German (BCLG), so I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it. But I ended up working for a law firm in Germany. So it worked out.

You know what? That’s a good way. I ended up working in software on the business side. So yeah, we both got good careers. We ended up gravitating to where we thought we would.

Were you able to do much sport at UCC, or did the heart conditioning stop you there?

I think at 15, I was pulled from doing all sports. I think it’s definitely one of the hardest days of my life, as I did a checkup in Crumlin. I was supposed to play an under-14/15 match in the club. And I told the coach that I was not allowed to play anymore, and I was done. So I didn’t go back to playing until I moved to America after UCC. Actually, that was how I got back into it then.

Where did you go to in America?

So I was dating a girl at the time, an American. She’s now my wife. She was studying at the time in Rochester, New York.

I finished my BIS degree, and I don’t know if most people know this, but you can get actually a one year J-1. So, within 18 months of graduating, you can get a one-year J-1. So I kind of Plamásed my way into a trial job. We’d try it for a year if they’re happy to sponsor me.

So, I went out working in IT consulting out there in Rochester for what I thought was going to be maybe a year, it turned out to be five years. So I had a good time and got to live the American lifestyle for a few years.

How does the American lifestyle compare to milk and cows in Glenville?

It was a bit of a reality shock. For me, winter in Rochester involved around 2 meters of snow. So you’re talking about probably kind of what you get in Germany, so, like minus eight, minus ten, and it’s all magical… inside…

When you see the snowfall now, you’re like, wow, boy, Christmas! Then you have to go to clean off the car to go drive to the shop and then you could get out of the shop and put the key in the car back in to drive home. Snow took a little bit of getting used to.

And it gets less magical, right. Because by March, it’s all that brown and grey slush/sludge. It has salt in it, and it’s got bits of pebbles… It’s not magic in March and April!

The beautiful thing in Europe is we get to make our own rules… as we don’t have the history… We get to our go our own way, and I think we’ve so much potential… I might find the lack of dynamism in… counties (in Ireland) restrictive, whereas out here, we get to try stuff.

John Murphy, Chairperson GGE

So how was living in New York? What was that like in Rochester?

Yeah. So Rochester, I suppose, is not terribly well-known. It is where Kodak cameras were invented, and Xerox, the tech printer company, were there.

It was the size of Cork, maybe 200/250,000 people. It was a nice experience. It was what you would think of with „American living“ away from big cities like New York. It had more of a small-town feel; it was grand.

The GAA was the big thing, right. I was there a year when I got involved, as I was just homesick. I moved there and got a job; I had a girlfriend, but I missed the craic.

At the end of my first year, my grandfather passed away in Ireland, and I couldn’t get back because I was swapping visas. I was devastated and felt so isolated and cut off. I suppose a lot of us experienced during the COVID pandemic that feeling of I just can’t do something.

So I started looking at the GAA then and found the club in Rochester, which was all Americans. Honestly, it was completely different and greatly changed my mindset.

Rochester GAA team, 2014.

These were all American-born lads. There were two Irish lads, including myself. There was one who was 56 from Down, who still had one of the sweetest left feet I’ve ever seen. I’ll be very happy at 56 if I can still pull over a 45 off the ground, I’ll be very happy! I was the only other Irish guy. The rest were Americans.

How different was an American club? What did they do that was different to clubs from home?

To be honest, I was completely infatuated with it. I think that’s why I got involved with it when I came back to Europe. It was the first time I saw our feelings towards our clubs… it transcends our passports, the English or Irish languages, or the parish we grew up in.

These were American guys who hadn’t their parents or grandparents involved in the club. They started this club because they loved our sports, and it definitely resonated with me.

Years of being told I couldn’t do something meant I’d only lean in stronger. And they had the same lunatic approach that I had, which was like, we’re all in this together.

It definitely inspired me to see that GAA is not about just the Irish, but we can actually grow as an organization and as six codes into encapsulating more and more people from outside of what we would see as our main target group.

So I think if I could pick a turning point in my GAA education, it was playing with the American lads.

They were in the trenches. We all slogged together on snow-filled pitches in the winter and maybe 38 degrees in the summer. It meant the same to them as it meant to me.

When I came back to Europe, then, I identified as much with the Europeans as the Irish because I hadn’t that Irish upbringing where my family were obsessed with it. My grandfather passed when I was in America, and he was very much involved in the GAA, and we got to a lot of sports. I hadn’t played much, and I hadn’t grown up in too much of a GAA household, so I was a bit agnostic.

I was in love with the enthusiasm shown by the Germans in Darmstadt or the Galicians. That, to me, is a remnant of what I saw in America: we have great bloody games, and we can’t keep them to ourselves.

You said that the families weren’t involved. How did they come across Gaelic Games over in Rochester?

Two lads went on a vacation to Ireland, and they came across it. I think there was an All-Ireland Final on in the pub. They were like, what is this? They fell in love with it.

Then there was also a guy from Dublin who moved out to the city as well. So it coincided that all of a sudden, this club was Rochester Club was founded.

A bunch of lunatics just found it and decided to make a club. And it’s such a typical story. How did you get to Amsterdam?

Yeah, it’s a hot skip and jump from Rochester, New York, to Amsterdam. After about five years of the American lifestyle, I wanted to do an MBA, and I looked at schools around the world. I identified the criteria, which was a top school, and in America, Stanford and Wharton are high-end business schools. But I had never lived in Europe.

I had gone to college in Ireland but never worked full-time in Ireland, and I had never done much on the continent. So when I looked at the best schools in the world, there were three in Europe, there’s one outside Paris called IÉSEG, the London School of Economics, and there was IE in Madrid.

IÉSEG is about an hour from Paris, so you’re living in the countryside. So it would be going back to my agricultural roots, Oisín, but I didn’t want to pay that amount of money to milk cows. I might as well buy the farm!

London, I’m not a huge fan of the city, and I was never drawn to it.

So Madrid I’d been to, I loved the location of the business school, in the city centre. It was very nice. It focused on entrepreneurship, diversity and having a broad education rather than maybe just focusing on accounting or purely financing abroad. So that attracted me as well as the rankings.

I thought that an opportunity to study in a foreign country with a foreign language was a huge opportunity.

Did you join Madrid Harps?

No, the Harps were fortunate as they managed to dodge my participation in their club. I loved being involved in Rochester, and I would probably like to have gone to Madrid Harps. I was just purely there in Madrid to study; that was the primary function of my time there.

It was nice to step away from the GAA for a bit. We talk a lot about county players who are burning out or even club-level lads who are just sick of it. For me, it was maybe a chance to step away and experience new things in life.

Coming out of the MBA, I got a job offer in Amsterdam with Microsoft. So I had this opportunity. But the minute I landed, I think I was in Amsterdam three weeks before I was out with the GAA club. So the hiatus was very quickly done when I moved to Amsterdam.

How long have you been in Amsterdam at this stage?

About six and a half years now. When I think about that Madrid hiatus, was that I had a community in the Master’s course. So we’re all doing the course together, and we’re all going through the same things. I didn’t have anyone when I landed in Amsterdam, similar to Rochester. The girl that I started all this with back in Rochester was now my wife. But when I landed in Madrid, I had all the other students and colleagues, and it was easy to build a network. In Amsterdam, we’re thrown into it again.

Again, I had to start over, and after the success in Rochester of finding that Irish community, it was that. I’ve been six and a half years.

How long did it take you to get involved with Amsterdam GAA? Was it measured in weeks, days, or months?

Weeks. I was at their first or second training of the year. It was in February. I moved in January and was out playing with them by February.

Were you set on being like a player, or did you always have the administration side in mind?

The admin side was accidental. Maybe because I’m stone useless as a player, they tried to guide me off the pitch.

If I do something, I’ll commit to it. When I was in America with Rochester, I became our PRO because they needed a website. I said to them, „you guys need to build a website“. And they said, „yeah, we do… Do you want to do it?“ Okay, if no one else wants to do it, I’ll bloody do it. That’s how I fell into it there.

Amsterdam GAC – not a bad club to be involved with – here they are in the Leinster Junior Football Championship against Laragh GAA from Wicklow.

With Amsterdam, they asked me if I would be the secretary, so I did the secretary job for a year, and then I was asked to step in as chairman. So I wouldn’t say I ever looked for it, but I never turned away from it.

I think everyone has to contribute in their own ways. I’m not the star midfielder, but I can send emails. You need that to run a club, too. I think there’s a whole back office of people that help clubs run, and you have to contribute where you can and add value where you can.

And maybe people thought I could add more value there. So for me, if I’m going to do something, I’ll do it to the best of my abilities and drive it on. So, I’ve never looked for it, but I’ve never shied away from it either.

It’s a similar story to most of us who get asked to do a job, and you never know where it ends up.

That’s it, Oisín, you need these administrators. As much as we’d all like to turn up to the pitches and just play, someone needs to book the pitches, someone needs to do the transfers, someone needs to book the accommodation when you’re travelling, someone needs to organize the kit whether it’s washing or buying new ones, and working on sponsorship.

„I always say it’s lunatics who found GAA clubs in Europe. I’ve yet to be corrected in terms of that.“

John Murphy, Chairperson GGE

There’s a lot of that stuff, and that sometimes goes unnoticed in clubs, so it’s important for people to recognize that. I turn up once/twice a week and train, but somebody’s orchestrating where we train and what drills we do. If you can help out in any way, it lightens the burden because it’s usually a few people doing the heavy lifting.

I saw some of the lads doing it, and I thought, „hey, I can help out“, and then fell in and ended up doing it myself.

You’re a goalkeeper, aren’t you?

As of last year, yeah, I used to play outfield, but again, they’re trying to migrate me off that, maybe.

I used to play outfield, then last year, I was playing five-a-side soccer in goal, and one of the lads was like, „You’re not bad in goal. Have you ever done it?“ And I said I used to do it in school because I wasn’t allowed to play outfield right because of my heart condition. I was always put in the goal as a safety precaution. Now playing hurling, I don’t know what kind of safety precaution goalkeeper is!

Anything to play, really… We had a goalkeeper gap as our goalkeeper had left. I wouldn’t have been good enough to start outfield, so I would say if I have the opportunity to start and contribute, then sure, like I will go in goal.

You’re the chairperson of European GAA – the GGE – and you’re playing for Amsterdam in both codes. How do you find balancing that?

It’s different hats. It’s like any job. You have to realize what the context is, so when I’m chairperson, and it’s county duties, then, yeah, the club hat comes off.

You need to think about us as a holistic county and what are the important factors when I’m in training during the week, and we’re sledging one another and slogging our way through the rain; I’m Amsterdam. When I got the chair of Europe, I stepped down from the chair of Amsterdam so that there wouldn’t be any conflict.

County Board chairperson but also playing for Amsterdam GAA.

The only role I have in the club is we started up a youth section. So I’m the club youth officer because I talked a lot about youth around Europe and I think that it’s a huge future. And I said I’d be kind of a hypocrite if I was walking around saying, „Hey, Oisín, you need to start a youth club down in Cologne“, and this lad needs to start one over here. It’s hypocritical for me to say one thing and do the other. So I leaned into it and started up the youth section in Amsterdam.

So that’s my role involvement now on the club committee is youth, and in fairness, now the parents are driving on too, so I can’t say it’s only me, just somebody needed to make that first step.

Yeah, so you became secretary of Amsterdam, and then you graduated onto the European scene. So how did that happen? How did you move on to the next level, or how did that interest develop?

Yeah, so I was secretary for a year of Amsterdam and then became chairman, and I was always vocal in my opinions, maybe on- and off- the pitch. There have been a few yellow cards directed my way for expressing my opinion on the pitch. You can’t book me when I’m in a county boardroom.

County board strategic planning event in the Irish embassy in Paris, summer 2022.

I was asked about a position that came up as an assistant secretary, it was there, and I said I’d be honoured in any way that I could help the association. So I got involved as the assistant secretary, then moved to the chairperson role. I’ve been the chairperson coming up to two years now.

Just on a club basis, it is a lot of work. So I can’t imagine it on a county basis.

It’s a lot of work, and I see why these roles have a limit in terms of maximum time served because I think there is across our organization volunteer burnout. There are a few carrying a lot of the load.

I love it. I genuinely think, again, going back to being asked to be involved, asked to run, the honour of being chairperson in a county I think is so fundamentally unique.

The beautiful thing in Europe is we get to make our own rules in many terms, as we don’t have the history. That’s good; some might say, „oh, we don’t have 140 years of roots“, but we also don’t have those roots. So I think we get to our go our own way, and I think we’ve so much potential.

If I was back in a county at home, everything would be standard operating procedures. I might find the lack of dynamism in those counties restrictive, whereas out here, we get to try stuff.

You guys in Cologne got to go back and play the Barrs. I don’t hear too often of teams from Armagh coming down to Cork right now. Maybe there is, but it’s a different thing for Cologne and St Finbarrs to play. That is cool!

I think it’s the opportunity in the county and the dynamism that is completely different, and you know, it’s just wonderful. So I get a buzz off it, especially when things happen for the club. I love doing things that make someone else’s life easier or give credit. There are a lot of people who do stuff in the background that needs to be praised. So anyway I can do that, I get energy from it.

At work, I help salespeople in their roles get better. So I’m always looking at how I make them 1% better every time we work. I have the same flare in the GAA. How do I help Cologne get 1% better? Or Amsterdam? So that’s my natural thing in terms of why I do stuff is to help others and to raise that.

I have such a strong affinity for the GAA just because I wasn’t allowed to play, and then later in life, I got unleashed and involved. It means so much to me that it’s bigger than me.

I want in 20 years every club to have a youth club. I want us to have a European youth network where clubs like Cologne and Amsterdam… The backbone of our clubs is youth. When I look back, we got this mad idea to start doing more organised tournaments and Féile. That’s the payoff. I could really make a long-term impact and help a lot of people. And that’s what our organisation does for a lot of us. So, yeah, I’m just honoured.

We’re planning on bringing in a youth officer this year to research it, find the details, what we need to do and all that. So hopefully next two years, maybe we can start having a proper structure for it.

Okay, we can help with some things with „cheat sheets“. So Frankfurt has a great youth program already. So worth talking to them.

There are applications for global game development, which would go out between October and December. If you are interested, you can reach out to me or our European development officer. We can help make that streamlined. There’s a lot of support there for clubs trying to start youth that we can help you guys with so that you’re not alone.

I think that’s a big thing: feeling alone, probably the lunatic, like, what am I starting! We can definitely help you.

Could you give us an overview of where clubs are popping up? Is there any pattern to it, or do they arise out of nowhere, and you open your email and see a club in Iceland or Denmark?

We have a club in Reykjavik!

Reykjavik GAA

So I think it’s very hard to predict where new clubs will appear. If you look at the challenges of founding a club and keeping it going … That’s very hard to create artificially. You need somebody on the ground that loves it; you need them to be part of the community, to pull people in. So you need certain attributes.

I always say it’s lunatics who found GAA clubs in Europe. I’ve yet to be corrected in terms of that.

I would say there are certain places where there are patterns developing. I think standalone clubs are very hard to predict. But patterns are starting to develop in certain areas.

So Brittany is driving on very well, and in fairness, the French Federation is doing a lot of hard work on the ground. If they even smell a club developing, they’re in there, supporting them, and putting the framework in place for that club to help develop. So I would say we’re seeing a consistent pattern of clubs coming out of France.

Rennes GAA – one of the leading clubs in Bretagne.

Galicia will be interesting just because we have the TV deal we’re working through there. It’s on the board of education curriculum in Galicia. So hopefully, these things in a few years will materialize so that we go from maybe eight to ten clubs to 25 to 30 clubs in Galicia. But that will take time.

It’s about promoting our game as much as possible in many languages and vehicles, whether on social media, TV, or print. Getting them out in as many languages as we can.

I don’t know where the lunatics will come from. I hope that nobody gets insulted by my calling the founders „lunatics“, but I think you have to be a little bit mad to start the GAA club. It’s a lot of work.

You mentioned TV there, and our club is going to be featured in a documentary on TG4 soon. We’re also going to feature on German TV on the ZDF morning show.

Oh yeah, brilliant. If we need to look at how clubs can maximize or amplify their effect, right? Did you see the thing with Helsinki Harps last year? (They featured on Finnish TV).

The local TV came out for hurling, and then they did their snip, their segment, and then they went back to the studio, and the presenter said, oh, they look like pizza shovels. The Harps printed up t-shirts, and the whole thing went viral.

They were on „Dermot and Dave in the Morning“. They were on Ray D’arcy and the 2 Johnnies. What just happened in September was Ryan, an American from Atlanta, Georgia, he’s the chairperson of Helsinki Harps. TG4 reached out to him and asked him if he would like to come on the TV show „The Underdogs“.

Helsinki Harps GAA

All because of one TV segment and one quip. The boys doubled down on it! It goes from freezing in Helsinki to Ryan getting a chance to appear on „The Underdogs“, which, I think, for anyone in Europe, would be a very cool thing to be part of. So absolutely go for it. Promote the hell out of it.

With our club website, we put a lot out there; you just never know what could come from things. We did an interview with Amber Barrett, and it was one of the first Google results for her before she scored the goal that sent Ireland to the World Cup. As the goal went in and everyone Googled „Amber Barrett“, the traffic went through the roof for our website.

If you put in enough kindling, eventually, you’ll find a spark, and it’ll all catch. That’s class for you guys.

I think Germany has huge potential in hurling because they like ice hockey. I would say you look at Darmstadt probably the same in your eyes. Have you some Germans now playing as well in Cologne? (It’s 50:50) I think the Germans are a little bit more drawn to the Hurling and camogie.

We often struggle to put out a football team and get bigger responses for hurling (at the moment).

Daniel down in Darmstadt, we were chatting one day, and he asked me about the manual for how to convince hurlers to play football in the GAA handbook? He said that he can’t convince anyone to go to football after playing hurling. Surely, there’s some program or therapy I can use. That’s one of my favourite stories „Where is the manual?“

Yeah. What do you reckon the outlook is for the GAA in Europe in the next five years? Ten years? What’s the perspective or direction?

The sky is the limit. So I don’t have too many big things because I think we need to be agile. I think there’s so much potential here. We need to be a little bit flexible in what we do.

The big one is getting into schools. So catching the Europeans earlier than coming out at 28 and joining Amsterdam… catching them at that 10/12 age group. So we’re in the schools in Brittany and in Galicia. Kevin Lenane, down in Sevilla, is working very hard to try and do something in Andalusia.

I think it’s about scaling that. Getting into more schools around the place, getting the level of brand awareness out, the level of coaching and developing coaches, giving them the materials in their local languages, and then we see where we go.

We need to just put in a lot of effort at the grassroots and not just look after the Irish. We genuinely need to step out of what I call the core of the GAA- the GAA-loving Irish people abroad.

There’s a secondary market in Europe: Irish people who may not have been too involved in the GAA or gave up in their teens but have now returned to the community aspect.

We’ve actually done well because I don’t think we’re as serious as maybe senior club championships at home. There’s a bit more craic in Europe. So there’s a bit more community and camaraderie in it, and we’ve done well with that. We can always do better.

Then there’s this next phase out: Europeans that are aware, and we need to drive that more. We need to give them resources in their local language to bring them out more and get them more involved.

„Our feelings towards our clubs… it transcends our passports, … languages, or the parish we grew up in. „

John Murphy, Chairperson GGE

We need to go into that fourth group, which is the complete white space in terms of Europeans who know nothing about us. So we are developing a three-year strategy to launch from 2023-25. We have five pillars. We’ve just finished getting feedback from clubs around Europe.

There are five pillars: brand awareness, commercialisation, regionalisation and game development, youth and locals. So, again, promoting what we have. We have great values like inclusivity and community. These are like the core of the GAA and even stronger in Europe.

So brand awareness, getting our name out there, promoting our values, talking to Irish businesses that want to get more engaged in the local community, be it Irish or European, and helping clubs and the county board benefit from that.

We’re a small county financially, but maybe a big Irish company could write a check that they wouldn’t consider a huge donation. We could do a lot of good by getting more footballs to new clubs and getting helmets to kids. We can do a lot with that. Or running coaching courses.

Then we have regionalization. We are getting bigger as a county. We’ve gone past 100 clubs. It’s huge. We need to put a framework in place so that they can run games more autonomously and structured than always having to come back to the central county board. We need to help lift everyone so that the structure doesn’t prevent them from thriving. What works in one region might not work in another. So we need that flexibility.

The fourth is game development. Examining how the more we play, the better we get, regardless of level. You always do that. So we’re looking at how we get more refs, how we attract them, upskill them and keep them. Same with coaches and the same with game structure. Do we need to think a little bit more broadminded? So these are things we need to consider.

And then I left the last two, which I think are really key. And if we nail these two, we will set the county up for massive success. Youth and locals. So youth needs to be carved out. We put a lot of effort in the last maybe 18 months around youth.

At the first European youth championships tournament in Brussels in October 2021.

We went from really having formal tournaments to running two last year. Now we’re going to have four or five this year. We had a Féile in Europe. We even got a Brussels team to play in Ireland, but we need to also adapt it. So we want to allow girls to play at Féile in Europe.

So we need to be bold, but we need to put in effort for kids. So more games, more youth coaching. We’re doing something in two weeks/three weeks‘ time in Brussels. We’re going to have a strategic sit-down with all of the youth clubs in Europe and get ahead because I don’t want to start this time in 2023 and say, oh, yeah, look, we lost a year. I want to say, no, we’re three or four months ahead with the youth because getting this right will set us up for long-term success.

The other one that is very important is that local, like, how do we get more materials in local languages, more promotion on local TV? How do we upskill the coaches so they can teach in German, French, and Italian?

As a county board, we need to pull our socks up, do more of this, and drive it on. We’re not going to fix everything today, and we’re not going to fix everything by this time in 2023. We made some hard choices about what we could do and what was feasible because we are all volunteers. Time is a constraint, and money is a constraint.

I think everyone has to contribute in their own ways. I’m not the star midfielder, but I can send emails… you have to contribute… and add value where you can.

John Murphy, Chairperson GGE

I look at these years coming out of COVID as our bounce-back year. We need to put down a solid foundation for the next three years to set us up for that success that you’re asking for in ten years. To me, it’s about getting the next three years. Then we can start looking up a little bit more. But I think we need to look at the grassroots and put the structures in place first.

That’s a comprehensive answer. I like the language part. I think that’s really important. They will always be Irish sports, but then makes it more accessible, more international, and that’s really important.

There are, I think, 400 million people in continental Europe. To me, as a county, as county board chair, that’s what I look at. My remiss is promoting our games to that population, not the maybe 80,000 Irish. The 80,000 are part of it, but there is so much bigger pie when you change your mindset.

It’s important to not forget about the Irish and important to keep the high levels, like going to Leinster in the hurling 15-a-side this year allows us at the top level to pull up that standard a little bit more.

So it’s always about like I said, my job day-to-day is about making my salespeople 1% better. If I can do that every day I work for the county board and make it 1% better, that would be huge. That’s so much progress, and that’s how I look at it every day. I want to do one thing that helps us move the dial a little bit more.

Brilliant. Yeah. That’s a great note to finish up because that’s everything I wanted to ask you. The future does look bright. We’ll be in touch about the youth structures.

Perfect. Great. Thanks for having me.

Thanks for chatting with us, John. It was a pleasure.

If you would like to help the GAA grow in Europe, make sure to get out and join your local club if there is one nearby. European clubs are always looking for new players and members, regardless of experience. If there isn’t a club nearby, get in touch with the GGE, and they will help you get started.

If your local club is in Cologne, we’d be delighted to have you join us! You can always contact us on our website or on social media. Even if you’re „stone useless“, as a player, who knows, one day, you might be the chairperson of the GGE!

Images courtesy of John Murphy

Top Image – John with GGE sponsorship officer Diarmuid O’Donovan in Croke Park.

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