My GAA Life

My GAA Life… with Derry’s Liam Hinphey

Which teams did you represent?

Kevin Lynch’s hurling club, St Canice’s, Derry football, Derry hurling, University of Ulster Coleraine, and also Jordanstown for a year, Ulster for Railway cup hurling. I also played for Ireland in the compromise rules. I played for Sydney Shamrocks hurlers in Australia.

What’s your current involvement?

I’m still playing, as much as anyone. I played for Derry, and Kevin Lynch’s. The plan this year was just to play club hurling.

What was your greatest moment in the GAA?

Probably, captaining Kevin Lynch’s to the senior hurling championship. That’s right up there. My two brothers were playing and my da was the manager.

What was the most surprising moment in your career?

The year I made my senior debut for the county footballers against Tyrone (2006). They were the All-Ireland champions and we beat them. It wasn’t a surprise that we beat them because we were well prepared. It was more the manner of how we beat them. We kept them scoreless in the first half. That was a surprise to everybody.

Who was the best player you ever played with?

Hurling: Geoffrey McGonagle. He had everything. He was unbelievable. He would have made any team in Ireland. Club or county. He was a natural scorer, skilful, strong, aggressive. Nearly your perfect full forward.

What was the best score you ever saw in a game you were involved in?

Geoffrey scored in the county final against Banagher. Fergal McGuigan soloed down the side of the pitch at Swatragh. Put the high ball in and a few boys went up for it, Geoffrey doubled on it with one hand and it went straight into the top corner. I was right beside him when it did it. Our Kevin might disagree. In the same game he broke his leg. He loves telling people that after he broke it, he played on, and went on and scored a goal. Two brilliant goals in one game but I would give Geoffrey the nod.

Which manager made the biggest impact on you and why?

I’ve played under some brilliant managers. For football I played under Adrian McGuckin, he helped out at Maghera when I was there. Dermot McNicholl was manager of the team and he was good. Paul Hughes were there too and he was good. But it was great to play under Adrian.

For hurling I couldn’t go past my Da. He’s taken the teams right up through underage. He has had a hand in all the big successes that the club has had.

What was the best thing about playing in your era?

For me, playing at this age, it is easier to play because when you get older you know how important it is, but at the same time you know it is not that important. You can enjoy it more. I used to get very nervous before games and it would have taken over. But I don’t get nervous now. There is less pressure. I just enjoy it.

What was the worst thing about playing your era?

Maybe the time commitment. That has changed a lot. You do have to put a lot of time in. Club game has gone to a different level. When I was playing county football it was two nights a week, a match at the weekend, and a few gym sessions. Now it is seven days a week. It is a full time job on top of your full time job. It seems like it is a model that doesn’t lend itself to an amateur player. It is not a sustainable model.

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